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Full text of "Omni Magazine (December 1993)"

ENVIRONMENTAL BATTLEGROUND: SAVING THE WORLD 



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THE MIND OF 

OSTRADAMUS: 

PORTRAIT 
OF A PROPHET 

THREE COMPLETE 
SCIENCE FICTION STORIES 

SPECIAL! 
V SPYING ON CELLS 



miiiill 




.P! ITS REAL 

PANASONIC INTRODfJCEf THE RE-M3D0, 




Iwlore responsive, more colorful, and up to 
50 times more powerful than ordinary systems. 
If s 3DO technology and Panasonic makes the 
only system that has it. 

Put on your oxygen tank; this is no video fish bowl. 

You're diving in the Sea of Cortez. where manta rays, barracudas 
and puffer fish swim gracefuily around you. What's a puffer fish, you 
■ say? Just click fj on your screen and you'll find out. 

As the puffer fish swims before you, a narrator describes ft. What 
you're seeing is actual filmed footage. What you're hearing is full, digital 
CD sound. It's a lot like educational television, only much more fun. Be- 
cause you're in control. Go where you want to go; learn what you want 
to learn, This is one biology 



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. 




lesson you won't be sleeping 
through. This is R-E-A-L. 

Introducing the Panasonic 
R-E-A-L3DO'* Interactive 
Multiplayer,™ the most highly 
evolved integration of audio, 
video and interactive tech- 
lology available. It 
i plays audio and 
ra photo CDs, 

and soon, with an optional adapter, full-length movies. 
And it will introduce you to a stunning new generation of 
interactive education, information and entertainment soft- 
3, from games, sports and flight simulators to travel- 
ogues, music and children's programs. 
What makes R-E-A-L so real? Up to 50 times more power than ordi- 
nary PCs and video game systems. Up to 16 million displayable colors for 
photorealistic picture quality. Right and left outputs for stereo hookup. 
And a custom multimedia architecture that makes R-E-A-L so respon- 
sive it practically redefines interactivity. 

Entertainment, music and more interaction than ever— the 
Panasonic R-E-A-L 3DO Interactive Multiplayer brings you 
the future in one amazing unit. But be warned: sooner or later 
you'll have to come up for air. 

To speak directly to the dealer nearest you, call 
1-800-REAL-3DO.|| : 



V 




I Panasonic 

I just slightly ahead of our time. 5 



onnrui 



VOL. 16 NO. 3 



EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONFJ 

PRESIDENT & C.O.O.: KATHY KEETON 

EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 

EXECUTIVE VP/GRAPHICS DIRECTOR: FRANK DEVINO 

MANAGING !-D 'OR CAROLINE DARK 

ART DIRECTOR: CATHRYN MEZZO 



DEPARTMENTS 






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FEATURES 










6 








35 


First Word 








Continuum 


By Albert B. Reynolds 






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43 


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The Resurrection of 


Communications 




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Nostradamus 


10 




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By Dava Sobel 


Wheels 




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"■?>%■■ . : -fri '"' VX-.J-' ■ . ' ■: - 


Taking a fresh look at the 


By Anna Copeland 








prophecies of 


12 








the sixteenth-century seer 


Electronic Universe 








B2 


By Gregg Keizer 








Saving Our World's 


16 








Heritage 


Space 








By Ellen Hoffman 


By Devera Pine 








The ultimate VIP list — very 


16 


"^ .;: ; ^B 






important places 


Political Science 








63 


By Tom Dworetzky 








Reinventing Education: 


20 








The Chicago Experiment 


Arts 






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By Sharon McAuliffe 


By Robert K. J. Killheffer 






Nobel laureate Leon 


A Polish surrealist 








Lederman 


becomes 








heads up a program 


Harlan Ellison's muse. 








dedicated to 


aa 

Funds 




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IjBmIH! 


changing the way Chicago 
school kids 


By Linda Marsa 
30 




learn math and science. 


Books 




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Performance-Based Tests 


By Robert K. J. Killheffer 






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By Kathy Seal 


32 






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Omni Online 






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Fiction: The Relativity 


By Keith Ferrell 






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of Chaos 


33 






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By Michaela Roessner, 


Stars 






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Connie Willis, 


By Steve Nadis 






and John Kessel 


112 


Although he 


died 400 year 


ago, Nostradamus haunts us 


/ 


Games 


still 


as the cover t 


y Beksinski (courtesy 


Interview 


By Scot Morris 


of Dmochowski Gallery 


suggests. This month, we 


By Thomas Bass 


Denmark, elephant, gray, 


reexamine his propr 


ecies and look beyond 


86 


kangaroo, orange 


hem at the 


nan himself. (A 


t and photo credits, page 1 10 


Antimatter 



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"AJDRD 



THE RETURN OF NUCLEAR POWER: 

Nuclear energy is about to make a big comeback — just in time 

By Albert B. Reynolds 



By the year 2000. we 
should see the reerner- 
gence of nuclear energy 
as the most promising power 
source for generating electricity. 
Cheaper than gas, cleaner and 
safer than coal, with a near-infi- 
nite fuel supply, nuclear power's 
time has come. Again. 

The time has come not a mo- 
ment too soon. Over the next 50 
years, the world's demand for elec- 
tricity will grow by 400 percent de- 
spite strides in conservation, ac- 
cording to Dr. Chauncey Starr, for- 
mer president of the Electric Pow- 
er Research Institute. 

For a variety of reasons, nucle- 
ar is the safest and most econom- 
ical solution to such an explosive- 
ly expanding demand for electric- 
ity. There are alternatives, of 
course, but each carries its own 
flaws and drawbacks. 

Economically competitive con- 
trolled hydrogen fusion probably 
cannot be developed before the 




middle of the next century. 

Renewable energy sources 
such as solar power, biomass, 
and wind power will play an im- 
portant part in the energy mix but 
are not yet close to being econom- 
ical in operation, nor can they fill 
the gap between the amount of 
energy needed and the amount 
they can produce. 

We are all familiar with con- 
cerns about using fossil fuels for 
generating electricity: The poten- 
tial greenhouse impact alone ren- 
ders fossil fuels less than desira- 
ble to meet large-scale growth in 
electricity generation. 

Of fossil fuels, natural gas of- 
fers the most promise. Currently 
inexpensive, producing fewer 
greenhouse gases than coal, our 
abundant supplies of natural gas 
are not abundant enough to 
meet a huge global increase in 
the demand for electricity. 

Which leaves nuclear fission. 

Currently, after 35 years of com- 
mercial operation of nuglear reac- 
tors, more than 20 percent of 
America's electricity Is derived 
from nuclear plants. That figure be- 
comes the' more remarkable 
when you realize that for well over 
a decade, domestic construction 
of new nuclear plants has been 
at a standstill, due, to a great ex- 
tent, to political and public per- 
ception issues. 

Those issues — notably plant 
safety and waste disposal — are 
settled, at least technically. Over 
the past decade, U.S. reactor man- 
ufacturers have designed a new 
generation of plants that reflect ad- 
vances in science and technol- 
ogy and also address public con- 
cerns over safety. 

Many safety guestions involve 
backup systems. In most existing 
nuclear-power plants, the urani- 
um fuel is cooled by water. Back- 
up safety systems are required to 
supply cooling water to the sys- 
tem in the event of an accident. 



Present backup systems use elec- 
tric pumps, putting the system at 
risk should there be an interrup- 
tion in power. 

New "passive" plants eliminate 
this risk by relying on an unin- 
terruptible phenomenon — gravity- 
driven water flow — for cooling the 
reaction, if necessary. About 
half the size of current U.S. 
plants, the new passive plants 
can provide electricity at almost 
the same cost as larger plants. 

Another new generation of nu- 
clear plants are called "evolution- 
ary" plants. These are equal in 
size to today's largest plants and 
incorporate safety and design les- 
sons from the past quarter cen- 
tury of nuclear-plant operation, al- 
though they still rely on pumps for 
backup safety systems. American- 
designed evolutionary plants are 
currently being built in Japan and 
South Korea. 

Disposal of nuclear waste is like- 
wise moving toward political res- 
olution with a $6 billion investiga- 
tion of a storage site in Yucca 
Mountain, Nevada. The plan is to 
store spent fuel ("high-level 
waste") from nuclear plants per- 
manently in a geologic reposito- 
ry composed of volcanic rock 
1,000 feet below the surface of 
Yucca Mountain and 700 feet 
above the water table. 

Use of the Yucca Mountain fa- 
cility is scheduled to begin in 
2010 — by which time continued 
advances will have resulted in 
whole new types of reactors be- 
ing brought online. Many of 
these will be small, passive reac- 
tors. Others will be the larger ev- 
olutionary plants. 

Whatever their nature or con- 
figuration, the next generation of 
nuclear-power plants will be- 
come, perhaps at last unargua- 
bly, the most important source of 
power for electricity generation in 
a world whose hunger for electric- 
ity is only going to increase. DO 




cannnnuniicATiorus 



READERS' WRITES: 

Problems with the drug problem, environmental snobbery, 

and the scent of a bovine 




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A Drug by Any Other Name 

In response to September's Political Sci- 
ence column "What to Do with Our Ad- 
diction Problem," I think that to not le- 
galize recreational drugs is to deny the 
fact that we are a drug-oriented socie- 
ty. Drug addicts are created by a soci- 
ety that no longer cares whether they 
live or die, only that they're not seen. 
How many of us would volunteer time, 
money, or taxes to get drug dealers and 
addicts off the street? We want them to 
just go away and leave us alone. Ad- 
dicts would not be as visible if they 
were able to purchase drugs at the lo- 
cal store and go home. This would al- 
so prevent our children from becoming 
galvanized by the sight of drug deal- 
ers on every corner who dress better 
than th'ey do, drive better cars, and ap- 
pear to have more self-esteem — to 
them, an appealing prospect. 

E. L Isbell 
Independence, MO 

While Tom Dworetzky deserves praise 
for at least considering alternatives, he 
should realize that the "war on drugs" 
is a self-perpetuating monster. Enor- 
mous amounts are spent on the drug 
industry, from public defenders to pro- 
bation officers, all with nice paychecks, 
pensions, and medical services. And 
how about the millions seized in cash 
and property, boats and motor vehicles? 
It's spread around to all the nice law en- 
forcement agencies for new vehicles 
and guns and high-tech toys. Does 
Tom really believe this whole segment 
of society will willingly give up its "gold- 
en goose"? The bottom line is that this 
is actually a war on the economy. 

Dennis Evans 
Cranston, Rl 

Dworetzky's most fundamental error is 
in blanket labeling all illegal narcotics 
as drugs, as if it were somehow a sim- 
ple, black-and-white issue. By propos- 
ing to treat all drug problems with one 
solve-all program, Mr. Dworetzky demon- 
strates the lack of distinction that has 
rendered' the "war on drugs" a failure. 
We have spent billions of dollars bust- 



ing marijuana growers and users be- 
cause they're easy to catch — dollars 
that could have been used to focus on 
those people affiliated with the truly so- 
cially destructive drugs. 

Chad McEvoy 
Seattle, WA 

Sideline Salvation 

You're right in "Gizmos," [August 1993] 
that Americans feel "saving the environ- 
ment is good and moral!' yet will not 
"pine for products that require a lifestyle 
change." It is just such a mindset that 
gives us a smug feeling of being in the 
ecological mora! majority by doing our 
little thing to save the earth, yet contin- 
uing to live a grossly consumerist life- 
style. Thus, we can buy 10-perceni re- 
cycled paper towels, wear "I Care 
About the Earth" T-shirts, eat ice 
cream touted to save the rain forest, 
and feel just a little bit morally superior 
to the guy next to us. 

Laurie M. Kozisek 
Anchorage, AK 

Intimate Memories 

In the September Continuum, one head- 
line reads, "If Smells Could Kill . . ." Ob- 
viously Sandy Fritz, who wrote the arti- 
cle, has never srnelled a cow's breath. 
As a man who used to milk several hun- 
dred cows daily at a dairy farm here in 
Oklahoma, I claim expertise on the sub- 
ject of cows' breath. I assure you that 
a cow's breath smells awfully good, 
like a meadow covered with wildflow- 
ers on an early spring morning. No won- 
der mosquitoes love it. 

Bob Melton 
Oklahoma City, OKDd 



Got something to say but no time to 
write? Call (900) 903-8683, ext. 
70103. Your comments will be re- 
corded and may appear in an upcom- 
ing issue of Omni. The cost for the 
call is 95 cents per minute. You 
must be age 18 or older. Touch- 
tone phones only. Sponsored by 
Pure Entertainment, P.O. Box 166, 
Hollywood, California 90078. 



IAJHEEI 



CAR TALK: 

The Brothers Magliozzi go trisyllabic 

By Anna Copeland 



Gall-in program 
is a nil. 
Between cosmic 
disorder and 
car repair, lam 
and Ray have 
all Ihe world to 
talk about— 
mixing wisecracks 
with muffler 
problems, road- 
side philos- 
ophy with wheel 



I have a theory about Ameri- 
I cans and their cars. We like 
1 them the way some countries 

like their cathedrals or their moun- 
tains. A near perfect symbol for 
a country that has always been 
on the move, there is something 
seductive in the basic design of 
metal and mechanics atop four 
wheels. Packards and Cadillacs, 
wagons and pickups— just varia- 
tions on a theme, A car can be 
sensitive to the road or contrary. 
It can purr or it can scream. But 
eventually, they ali break down. 
To offer advice to the broken, 
near broken, dead, and healthy 
alike, Tom and Ray Magliozzi 
take to the airwaves each week 
with a call-in car-repair show, Car 
Talk. Both graduates of MIT, Tom, 
who holds a Ph.D. in marketing, 
teaches at Suffolk University in 
Boston, while Ray, a former con- 
sultant for the Consumer Affairs 
Division of the state attorney gen- 
eral's office, runs their Boston- 
area garage. 




Car Talk, distributed by Nation- 
al Public Radio with an average 
weekly audience of more than 1 .5 
million, is about more than car re- 
pairs. It's a comedy, a soapbox, 
and a unique source of rambling 
insights delivered alongside reli- 
able automotive advice. It's a one- 
hour high-speed chase through 
issues as complex as evolution- 
ary biology and as simple as the 
beauty of a 65 Ambassador. It's 
a show as much about talk as it 
is about cars, or as Tom puts it, 
"We try and stay one syllable 
ahead of the crowd. If they 
speak in double syllables, you've 
got to go trisyllabic." 

In their own version of dueling 
banjos, Tom and Ray talk in 
thick East Cambridge accents 
over, around, behind, and above 
each other. Tom describes one of 
the only cars he ever bought 
new. "It was a 1965 Ambassador 
convertible — sleek, black, and 
beautiful, a timeless design." Ray 
responds, "Kind of like a card- 
board box is timeless/" Tom di- 
vides the world into the wasters — 
the disposable people — and 
those like himself who think 
things should last forever, Ray 
calls the first group normal and 
the others nuts. Tom wants to lim- 
it the number of cars manufac- 
tured every year, while Ray won- 
ders who would get the limited 
supply. But one thing the two 
agree on is the pleasure of their 
craft. "That's what life's all 
about, man," Tom says, "fixing 
old cars." 

Another subject that generates 
some common ground is their dis- 
trust of professionals in general 
and scientists in particular. Ray is 
talking about a scientist of note 
(Tom: "Guido the barber?") who 
claims that species are going ex- 
tinct at a rate a thousand times 
faster than 200 years ago. "How 
do they know that?" he cries. 
"They don't know that that's true. 



And even if it were true, how do 
they know it's not supposed to be 
that way?" In our interview, the 
talk about scientists and extinc- 
tion is a passionate digression 
from a treatise on dinosaurs and 
fossil fuels, which is a digression 
from the subject of oil shortages 
and ecological mania. 

At the suggestion that cars or 
oil for fuel are killing the planet, 
Ray goes Jurassic. "Every ten to 
a' thousand million years there is 
some huge cataclysmic event on 
Earth, so why get too shook up 
about il? What we do now 
doesn't matter. We are only a 
speck in time." According to Ray, 
pollution— what we put in the air — 
doesn't count for beans. "We 
need to put things into perspec- 
tive. A few years ago, for exam- 
ple, there was a great effort to 
save a whale beached off the 
coast of Alaska. That's all well 
and good, but I'd rather see the 
money put toward starving ba- 
bies or world peace than saving 
whales or the spotted owl." 

Tom counters evolution with 
sociology. "The problem is that 
there are too many people in 
their forties and fifties who are 
suddenly struck by the fact that 
they're mortal. In an effort to 
achieve some kind of immortality, 
they're going to make sure that 
the spotted owl survives — they're 
trying to live forever through the 
spotted owl." 

In a final detour, Ray brings the 
past and the future into his own 
backyard. He didn't create the 
mess of modern living; Western 
industrialists did. "I will continue 
to use CFCs, pollute, use my gas 
grill, and drive every minute," he 
says, But Tom seems less in 
love with the present and a bit 
sadder about the future. "Look at 
Los Angeles," he warns. "That's 
where we're headed— cruising 
down the interstate at eight 
miles an hour."DQ 



UNIVERSE 



OUT-OF-HOUSE EXPERIENCES: 

Some electronic thrills you've gotta go out for- 

By Gregg Keizer 



Some fun you just can't 
get at home. Some fun 
takes a pile of coins and 
a tr p 'i the car. 

~-ic:i trip can be as short as a 
quick drive to the nearest mega- 
mall or as long as a cross-coun- 
try quest in search of the wire- 
head's answer to an amusement 
park. No matter what the gas 
bill, the journey's worthwhile to 
electronic entertainment junkies, 
because stuff like this just ain't 
gonna make it into the home be- 
fore your kids are grown and 



Kin can'! jusl go 
ou\ and liuy 

vqwnwti lite 
Sega's AS3 



men! center or 



Traditional video arcades are 
the easiest source for out-of- 
house entertainment. Though 
many of the best stand-up 
games eventually migrate to 
home videogame machines — 
check out Acclaim's Mortal Kom- 
bat for the Super Nintendo and 
Capcom's Street Fighter II Spe- 
cial Champion Edition for the 
Genesis — not all can shrink 
enough to fit inside a cartridge 
and your television screen, Nor 
do you get the steering wheels 
and cockpits of the arcade's sit- 
down racing games, satisfactory 
side-by-side play, or hydraulically 
controlled seating in front of your 
television set. 

One of the best reasons to hit 
the mall is Virtua Racing, a multi- 
player driving game created by 
Sega. Virtua Racing posts people 
at a long, counterlike panel 
where each player stares at a 
large display showing a wind- 




shield view. As you drive, your 
chair rocks and rolls, simulating 
the road's bumps and bruises. It 
may not be as dangerous as NAS- 
CAR, but this Formula One-style 
race is a hoot if only because 
you're head-to-head with real play- 
ers, not computerized drones. 

Another excuse to drop dollars 
at the arcade is Virtuality's Dac- 
tyl Nightmare, one of the few 
games that really relies on virtual- 
reality (VR) technology. After don- 
ning a VR helmet that tracks 
your head movement and shows 
you the game on its built-in gog- 
gles, you stand in a small enclo- 
sure to compete in a firefight 
with a just-as-goofy-looking oppo- 
nent connected to your machine. 
You'll find Dactyl Nightmare in a 
few of the biggest arcades in cit- 
ies like New York, Chicago, St. 
Louis, Dallas, and Seattle. VR 
isn't cheap — Dactyl runs $4 to $5 
for a four-minute run — but as a 
novelty, it's worth the bucks. 

Even further removed from 
home entertainment are things 
like the Virtual World Entertain- 
ment Centers, which have recent- 
ly multiplied- beyond an original 
Chicago-based digital theme 
park. You crawl inside networked 
pods, close the hatch, and in the 
dim light of displays and dials, digi- 
tally duke it out. In Chicago, the 
Center sports two games: Bat- 
tleTech, where you control a hu- 
manoid fighting machine in a 
weapons-happy tag-team compe- 
tition, and Red Planet, a hover- 
craft racing game that lakes 
place in the mining canals of 
Mars. It's expensive fun — $7 to 
$9 a pop— and as in Virtua Rac- 
ing, the joy is in the chase of car- 
bon-based opponents, not some 
silicon simpleton. Virtual World has 
big plans — a Center in the San Fran- 
cisco Bay area is already open, 
another in San Diego should de- 
but by the end of the year, and 
sites in New York City and Los An- 



geles are on the boards. 

This trend toward smaller, local- 
ized amusement centers special- 
izing in high-tech gadgets may 
run counter to the- all-in-one ap- 
proach, but it makes so much 
sense that other companies are 
joining in. Sega, for instance, 
wants to take its AS1 capsule — 
an eight-passenger combination 
theme-park ride and videogame — 
to the heartland by building as 
many as 50 miniature theme 
parks across the United States in 
the next few years. Players sit in 
the capsule, which, as in Virtua 
Racing, bucks like a bronco, and 
shoot at enemy spaceships. 

Some of this technology will 
make it home, of course, at least 
in scaled-down fashion. Sega's Vir- 
tua Racing will appear on its Gen- 
esis videogame machine, sans 
the shaky seat. Virtual-reality- 
style gear will also trickle down to 
home entertainment; Sega's £200 
headgear, Sega VR, should be 
on the shelves by the end of this 
year. And multiplayer games, 
long the domain of arcades, are 
available via two- and even four- 
player videogames, as well as 
through online entertainment 
from services such as the Sierra 
Network and Prodigy. 

Even so, don't count on stay- 
ing home all the time. Cutting- 
edge technology isn't cheap, and 
only by serving the masses can 
it turn a profit. Nor can the social 
aspects of entertainment be over- 
looked, for there's no way, in the 
family den, to mimic the crowd- 
ed, friend-filled atmosphere of an 
arcade. The movie watched on 
the home VCR may show the 
same frames as one seen on the 
big screen, but there is a differ- 
ence in the experience. Ditto 
with at-home and out-of-house 
electronic entertainment. 

Sometimes— now and in the fu- 
ture—you've just gotta get outta 
the house. DO 



wrmni 8 ' # ICih^^ 



WHAT'S FOR DINNER? 

Eating a balanced diet in microgravity isn't easy 

By Devera Pine 



Mfcrogravity 

migii! palify as 

one a! the 

few Biases wiiere 
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MSA Mm- 

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□ ining in space has al- 
ways been a somewhat 
less than appetizing ex- 
perience. John Glenn, the first 
U.S. astronaut to eat in space, 
sucked applesauce out of some- 
thing akin to a toothpaste tube. 
Neil Armstrong fueled his walk on 
the moon with bacon squares, 
peanut cubes, and hot dogs. And 
though today's shuttle astronauts 
feast on the likes of shrimp cock- 
tail, chicken cacciatore, and 
peach ambrosia, their diet still 
leaves much to be desired. 

Granted, food for space trav- 
elers has come a long way since 
the early days when, like Glenn, 
astronauts got their meals out of 
a tube. "The meals had fancy 
names like beet stew and chicken 
stew, but they were all ground 
up," says Charles Bourland, sub- 
system manager of space-station 
food at NASA's Johnson Space 
Center in Houston. "It was like eat- 
ing baby food." 

From meals in a tube, NASA 
progressed to squashing every- 
thing from peanut-butter cookies 
to pork chops into a cube 
shape. "Cubes didn't go over 
very well," Bourland says. 

The food that shuttle astro- 
nauts eat today bears more resem- 
blance to camping food than to 
baby food. In fact, astronauts can 
select their meals from more 
than 100 items, including dehy- 
drated edibles like shrimp cock- 
tail, which some of the astronauts 
snack on dry, and single-serving 
puddings and cereals. Ironically, 
the shuttle's menu has become 
so extensive that the missions of- 
ten turn into snack feasts. 

"They don't really have a 
good diet on the shuttle," Bour- 
land says. "Nutritionally, the 
foods are probably a little high in 
sodium and occasionally high in 
fat. They're also low in fiber." 

The shuttle's lack of a refriger-" 
ator or cooking oven contributes 



to the problem, ruling out any 
food that must be stored or 
cooked, For instance, though as- 
tronauts can take Tang along, 
they can't have milk or soda. Pow- 
dered milk would get around the 
refrigeration problem, but the ver- 
sion that NASA tried failed taste 
tests, Bourland says. And the as- 
tronauts didn't take a liking to 
warm soda, either. 

Fresh fruit and vegetables are 
scarce as well: The shuttle's fresh- 
food locker can carry a few 
days' supply of carrot sticks, tor- 



tilla and candy-coated choco- 
lates were also at the top of 
Thuot's list of preferred foods. In 
addition, he enjoyed the Wheat 
Thins and goldfish-shaped crack- 
ers: "it was kind of fun floating 
those things around." 

On the other hand, the dehy- 
drated vegetables — all served in 
a sauce of some kind to keep the 
veggies from floating out of their 
plastic container in microgravity— 
have few fans. "You have to put 
your finger in [the package] and 
squish it around to gat the water 




til las., and apples, but for the 

most part, astronauts don't take 
fresh food into space. 

To keep the crews happy, NA- 
SA allows them to try various 
foods before their launch dates 
and to select their own menus. A 
dietitian reviews the astronauts' 
selections and makes suggestions. 
Pierre Thuot, one of the astro- 
nauts who grabbed the wayward 
Intelsat in May 1992, liked the 
thermosfabilized beef tips with 
mushrooms, a rather salty dish 
with big slices of mushrooms, tiny 
pieces of meat, and lots of gooey 
gravy. It comes in a foil pouch; astro- 
nauts warm it in a forced-air con- 
vection "oven" that only heats up 
to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Peanut butter and jelly on a tor- 



to all parts of the vegetables." 
Thuot explains. 

Overall, though, most people 
rate the food as decent. "But it's 
probably something you wouldn't 
want to live on for thirty days or 
more," Bourland says. Gloria 
White, a registered dietitian at 
NASA, participated in a study in 
which she ate only shuttle food 
for 28 days: "I missed the crunch- 
ihes's of fresh fruits and vegeta- 
bles," she says. However, be- 
cause the next step in space ex- 
ploration — a space station — 
would require astronauts to live in 
space for months, NASA is now 
developing a refrigerator, freezer, 
and microwave oven. "For the 
space station," Bourland says, 
"we're trying for a better diet." DO 



■■J^^ILhI %aJf m m am %mma 



THE FORMER UNITED STATES: 

Dateline: December 1, 1999 — Des Moines 

By Tom Dworetzky 



"We feel Hie lime 

has cosne 

tor a madem-ess 

ii&sinn iWd 

Parti/. RBraetjade 

stale gov- 



negades again broke in- 
;,' to the federal VR super- 
9 grid today sinking apps 
in progress and sending out E- 
mail proclaiming the end of tax- 
ation without representation. 
"Now that we're deep in the dec- 
ade of federal government over- 
growth, we feel the time has 
come for a modern-day Boston 
Tea Party," began the manifesto, 
distributed simultaneously to all 
state databases. 

"We urge state governors to 
gather at a giant virtual constitu- 
tional convention and decide to 
secede from the union en 




flOilflOeti JSiaflS 

to secede 

'mm Hid yiifeii 




masse, instead of paying further 
federal taxes, our revenues 
should go to state coffers. The 
states will thus be responsible for 
their entitlement programs, de- 
fense through national guard, ed- 
ucational systems, the FDA, EPA, 
SEC, and soon. 

"Downsizing or rightsizing is 
proving an essential move for any 
organization wanting to survive. 
For the government, it is now 
time to look — not so much at re- 
structuring health care, welfare, 
and national defense — but at 
restructuring the United States it- 
self. Divided we stand; united we 
fall. We the People call for a new 
confederation of states, governed 
by a weakened and, we hope," 
chastened central government 



letin Board in Washington came 
the following response: From 
Pres. Gov: "My fellow Americans, 
I know we all feel burdened by 
the 75-percent income tax re- 
quired to pay for national health 
insurance, defense expenditures, 
and the interest on the 20-trillion- 
dollar debt, But such a sacrifice 
is necessary to bring our annual 
4-trillion-dollar deficit under con- 
trol. Would you have us close the 
much-needed federal food kitch- 
ens or the federal dormitories for 
the homeless that provide critical 
accommodations for 30 percent 
of our population? Nor can we 
close our prisons, holding 14 mil- 
lion of our hardened criminals, I 
ask for your support during this 
time of sacrifice." EndMessage. 

When reached at his secret 
mailbox by this reporter, the re- 
bel leader, EWiley.coy, expand- 
ed on the initial E-mail manifes- 
to: "The time has come to stream- 
line. There are telecommunica- 
tions, information, and computer 
technologies permitting us to elim- 
inate thousands of middle-man- 
agement jobs without necessarily 
losing much of desirable govern- 
ment services and programs. For 
a while now in business, single 
persons with the right computer 
system have been doing the 
work once performed by many, 
It's time for the government to 
shape up. Certain issues such as 
the long-term debt, trade, and na- 
tional defense still require nation- 
al coalitions of states. But states 
already have their own bureauc- 
racies to handle many domestic 
and public-safety issues. 

"Almost a decade ago," he con- 
tinued, "we witnessed one great 
bureaucracy, the USSR, undergo 
a painful but necessary revolution 
from within. Perestroika was the 
direct result of a situation in 
which bureaucratic gridlock had 



became so incapable of address- 
ing the ongoing challenge of man- 
aging its problem that it ground 
to a halt and unraveled. Today 
the former Soviet Union is a finan- 
cial powerhouse." 

In spite of government efforts 
to quell the electronic revolution, 
EWiley.coy's grass-roots move- 
ment is picking up support. Rad- 
ical elements of the Symbolic Lib- 
eration Front (SLF), the Road Bri- 
gade, and the Programmer's Lib- 
eration Army (PLO) have already 
proclaimed their independence 
from the Net and have created 
underground bulletin boards and 
secret alternative system servers 
to support a new alternative elec- 
tronic superhighway. Renegade 
state governments, led by Utah, 
Iowa, and the state of Northern 
California, have already an- 
nounced plans to secede from 
the United States. According to 
sources in these states' admini- 
strations, within the next 72 
hours, the governors will declare 
that their citizens will no longer be 
required to submit their electron- 
ic federal taxes — and that state mi- 
litias will be mobilized to protect 
these areas from any interference 
by federal law-enforcement or 
military agencies. 

These governors will also be or- 
ganizing an official gathering of 
all 51 governors at the same 
time in an effort to force the issue 
and make secession unanimous, 
sources report. DO 

What do you think? Should we 
dissolve the federal govern- 
ment? Call (900) 285-5483. 
Your views will be recorded 
and may appear in a future is- 
sue. Calls are 95 cents per min- 
ute. You must be age 18 or old- 
er. Touch-tone phones only, 
Sponsored by Pure Entertain- 
ment, P.O. Box 166, Holly- 
wood, California 90078. 






AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE WEIRD: 

An evocative Polish surrealist makes his American debut 



By Robert K. J. Killheffer 



Swriirts (lie 

influence 

of the great 

surrealists 

and Iris awn 

inimitable 

vision. Palish 

painter 

Jacek Yerka's 

worfc is 

like a window 

- into manv 

BttBf HOtOS. 



brought Eastern Europe 
the peace and prosperity many 
hoped for, it has afforded Polish 
artist Jacek Yerka (pronounced 
"Yahtzik Yurka") a golden oppor- 
tunity. In November of 1991, 
Yerka's agent/manager Elzbieta 
Lavastre reserved a small booth 
at the Los Angeles Contemporary 
Art Fair, which she might never 
have considered attending dur- 
ing the Cold War years. James 
Cowan, founder of Morpheus 
International, an art book publish- 
er based in Beverly Hills, Califor- 
nia, came upon Yerka's work at 
Lavastre's booth, and the rest, as 
they say, is history. 

"I knew I was in the presence 
of a genius," Cowan recalls. 
Among the welter of artists' work 
at the Fair — Cowan remembers 
"a lot of banal and mediocre 
stuff" — the paintings by Yerka, a 
painter little known in his native 
land and not ai all abroad, stood 
out to Cowan's eye like a beacon 
through the fog. 

Cowan cut a deal on the spot 
("I was ready to sign him up with- 



in five minutes of seeing the paint- 
ings," he says) to do. a book of 
Yerka's work, which was exciting 
enough on its own, but when he 
showed some of Yerka's work to 
writer Harlan Ellison — in hopes of 
obtaining an Ellison introduction 
for the book — Cowan got more 
than he could ever have hoped 
for, Ellison liked the paintings so 
much that he volunteered to pen 
30 new stories inspired by 




Yerka's art to accompany the 
paintings in the book. "I was abso- 
lutely knocked out," says Ellison. 

Oi course, Cowan could hard- 
ly pass up such an opportunity. 
In time for Christmas this year, 
Morpheus International is publish- 
ing Mind Fields, a 30-painting 
showcase of Yerka's artwork and 
Ellison's fiction, a collaboration 
between a somewhat obscure Pol- 
ish artist on the one hand and an 
internationally famous, award- 
winning American writer on the 
other, which emerges as more 
than the sum of their parts. 

Yerka's art brims with echoes 
of the famous surreal artists of the 
past, from Hieronymus Bosch 
and Pieter Brueghel to Salvador 
Dali and Rene Magritte, filtered 
through Yerka's own unique sen- 
sibility. In Attack at Dawn, a car 
takes on the form of a biomechan- 
ical lizard, and the diving planes 
sport carnivorous teeth and cru- 
elly curved claws. Europe's fan- 
ciful city hewn from stone perch- 
es precariously on a few thin 
pipe supports over a bleak 
plain, while a road spills down the 
cliff like a waterfall. A door opens 




uddenly, Magrittelike, onto an- 
ther world in The Oligocenskie 
hardens, while on the surface 
.bove, strangely bare symmetri- 
dot a misty landscape 
out of Hugo van der Goes. 

One thing Ellison noticed right 
away about Yerka's paintings 

CONTIMULD ON PAGE 24 





Ihe owls who 

couldn't 

be moved. 

Owls sometimes build nests in 
strange places. 

In a Southern California oil 
field, a nest with baby bam 
owls was discovered deep inside a 
stalled pumping unit. 

A decision was made not to 
restart the pump until these fledg- 
lings grew up and left the nest. 

It was made by the worker who 
discovered the owls and was whole- 
heartedly supported when he 
called die office to report. 

So that spring, while other 
pumps in the field created a land- 
scape of motion, one solitary pump 
stood quiedy waiting for nature 
totakewing. 

. Do people make nature a 
'natural part of their business? 

People Do. 

Chevron 



flCKTi, HOUSEHOLD C H R £ 5 , PAYING YOUR PHOKI BUI BUD NOW THIS: 

Suddenly, mankind's 

inte galactic future is 

in your hands. 

(Please, please, please, PRACTICE } 

Your mission, if you accept it, is to lead a force of interstellar 
fighters against a lethal, computerized battle fleet in an epic struggle 
that spans 64 light-years. In other words, Silpheed is the best space 

shooter ever. 

Of course, the galaxy's greatest 
ame technology is on your 
side: Sega CD. Which 
should help even things 

up. (SEGA CD also 
t makes those Grayzon 
; battle cruisers even 
more awesome. 
Yeah, you better 
start practicing. 
Today.) 






r e was moving, you'd see ihe 
oil action, advanced polygon 
raphics, enemy bottle cruisers and incredibly 



ire, you gel your Forward 
how 'bout aGr— "— °— L 



The CD-quality look is so realistic anc 
three dimensional you may forget it's 

thai pile ol dirty laundry. 



Only o gar 

The multi-electromagnetic intakes of levels, or : 

the drive system give the SA-77 inler-goloc 

Silpheed croft its distinct profile. Bui 



I for Sego CD could have 
ic graphics, or so many 
h vibrant sound. (Our 

enemies would be proud.] 



EpflflBE 



■mb? Choose your weapons. 



0BU10USIV THIS IS R LITTLE J10RE imP0RTRN T T n BN HOSSIBG VOUK TtETH (FTIS-WUY IMRL. 



SEGA CD 

W H C m H T H l N E « T L '■ 



■-is-.,: iii= C-sr.ssii i-scpi! 






Harlan 

Ellison was 

inspired 

bv Yerka's 

images 

io write 30 

original 

stori storiss 

for the 

artist's booh. 



was their vividly narrative quality: 
"There wasn't one of them that 
didn't spark some sort of 
strange Borgesian idea in my 
head." The paintings often invite 
a literary interpretation, suggest- 
ing a story in progress or just fin- 
ished. The lizard car's door in At- 
tack at Dawn stands open — 
where has the rider gone? It's the 
passenger-side door — is the driv- 
er still inside? The title of Truan- 
cy at the Pond hints at the dark 
tale behind the painting: An emp- 
ty toy boat, tied to the pier, floats 
aimlessly, while a trail of bubbles 
drifts up from the seemingly bot- 
tomless depths. 

Ellison's accompanying pieces 
are themselves artistic gems; 
they play off of Yerka's images 
without becoming slavish, they're 
full of Ellison's famous wit and en- 
ergy, and they (like the paintings) 
mingle a sharp, detailed sense of 
vivid reality with an odd, offbeat 
flavor of the fantastic. Ellison's fic- 
tion and Yerka's art make a per- 
fect complement. 

Today, Yerka lives a fairly re- 
clusive existence in a cottage in 
rural Poland, lacking even a 



phone, subsisting on the sale of 
his paintings. Since his days at 
art school, like any true artist, 
Yerka has stubbornly followed his 
muse. His teachers tried year af- 
ter year to make Yerka paint in 
the manner and style of contem- 
porary artists, to give up his pas- 
sion for the crisp paradoxes of 
surrealism and the distinctive col- 
ors of his fifteenth-century Flem- 
ish influences. But Yerka perse- 
vered, and his instructors reluc- 




tantly recognized him as a bril- 
liant (though peculiar) talent. 

Now, with the publication of 
Mind Fields, Yerka's stubborn- 
ness may pay off. Morpheus In- 
ternational has big plans for its 
new artist — Cowan already has a 
second book in the works and 
plans to print a series of fine-art 
posters and original lithographs 
of Yerka's work. Morpheus is the 
only art-book publisher to focus 
on fine art of the fantastic, cur- 
rently handling the works of H. R. 
Giger and De Es Schwertberger. 
"It's a labor of love," Cowan 
says. "Sure, I make some money 
from it, but my main interest is to 
help the artist who has basically 
been ignored." With such striking 
images and Harlan Ellison's pro- 
vocative stories to lure readers 
in, Yerka may well become one 
of Eastern Europe's most suc- 
cessful exports of the post-Cold 
War era. DO 

For more information or for a free 
brochure, write to Morpheus In- 
ternational at 200 N. Robertson 
Boulevard, Suite 326, Beverly 
Hills, California 90211. 




$ ■liwinwi! 

INVESTMENT CLUBS: 

Making money the old-fashioned way 

By Linda Marsa 



of invesfmen! clubs, 

provides slep- 

by-step guifleiiEJSs, 

including a 



!n today's unpredictable econ- 
omy, real estate can be treach- 
erous, bond yields are scanty, 
and picking stocks can be chanc- 
ier than throwing darts. So how 
can a rank amateur, who doesn't 
know the difference between a 
blue chip and a tortilla, invest 
money like a pro? 

Why not start an investment 
club? Now that the speculative 
bubble has burst, buying stocks 
Nfllfl, !i!E parent is no longer like cloning money. 
Investment clubs, which preach 
the virtues of self-reliance and ed- 
ucation, provide a low-risk setting 
for a novice to earn and learn 
how to master the market. 

Investment clubs' main draws 
are that members poo! resourc- 
es, which boosts their buying pow- 
er, and share research chores. 
Members then use the club as a 
source of ideas for their own port- 
folios. And by doing the legwork 
themselves, they don't need the 
sage advice of a broker — they 
can use a discount brokerage or 
even purchase stocks directly 
from companies through dividend 
reinvestment plans (DRIPs). Side- 
stepping commissions and man- 
agement fees can add to yearly 
yields by as much as 10 percent. 

In the past decade (through 
1992), in fact, roughly 69 percent 
of all investment clubs have 
matched or beaten the Standard 
&Poor 500, according to the Na- 
tional Association of Investors Cor- 
poration (NAIC), the parent orga- 
nization of Investment Clubs of 
America, a nonprofit alliance of 
about 10,233 clubs with 215,000 
members across the United 
States. Only 19 percent of Wall 
Street's heavy hitters outper- 
formed that index during the 
same period. 

"There's common sense, and 
there's Wall Street wisdom," 
says NAIC's chairman Thomas E. 
O'Hara, a plain-spoken Mid- 
westerner with little patience for 




the shenanigans of latter-day fi- 
nancial wizards. O'Hara, one of 
NAIC's founders, prefers to 
make money the old-fashioned 
way. "Buy and hold is the sanest 
strategy," says O'Hara, whose 
own $14,000 nest egg has bal- 
looned to $452,000 Since 1941. 

Club members also tend to be 
cautious and stick to the tenets 
formulated by the NAIC's found- 
ers in 1951: Stay fully invested, re- 
invest dividends and profits, di- 
versify portfolios to spread risk, 
and learn how to identify under- 
valued stocks with long-term 
growth potential. "Everyone 
thinks the fourth principle is the 
catch," says O'Hara, "but we've 
found that people actually pick 
winners quite well. What they 
don't do is stay invested. The min- 
ute the market drops, they run 
scared— but that's when you get 
the best bargains." 

The NAIC offers seminars on 
how to size up the potential of eq- 
uities using computer programs 
to chart financial and stock- 
price data. Members are taught 
how to rigorously screen candi- 
dates by looking at the quality of 
a company's management team, 



past earnings and future pros- 
pects, the overall outlook for the 
industry, and the stock's price-to- 
earnings (P/E) ratio — Its current 
price divided by the earnings per 
share for the previous 12 months. 

"They explain investment strat- 
egies from ground zero," says Dr. 
Christine Ellis, an Ohio physician 
who started the Greater Toledo In- 
vestment Club nine years ago 
with some fellow doctors who 
formed the nucleus of the club, 
which now has about 20 mem- 
bers. This size is large enough to 
generate enough working capi- 
tal — the club's portfolio is 
$88,000— but not too cumber- 
some to manage. They all 
chipped in a few bucks up front 
to buy computer software and a 
subscription to a monthly educa- 
tional investment magazine, and 
put $35 a month into the pot. Du- 
ties — tracking stocks, collecting 
dividends, purchasing equities, 
or even picking up refreshments — 
are rotated. 

Everyone agrees on the ba- 
sics: They understand that the 
club is a long-term commitment, 
and they share a conservative in- 
vestment philosophy — no dab- 
bling in soybean futures. Each 
month, says Ellis, "we target one 
industry and. do a stock compar- 
ison charting about four or five of 
the top performers." 

And they have spotted some 
winners: Disney, which they 
bought at S14 and was recently 
selling for $39, and General Elec- 
tric, which leapt more than 30 per- 
cent. "Out of every five stocks 
you buy, one will do extremely 
well, three will do average to 
above average, and one will do 
poorly," says Ellis, "The key is to 
hold on and not jump in and out." 

\\ you're interested in starting 
an investment club, write to 
NAIC, 1515 E. Eleven Mile Road, 
Royal Oak, Michigan 48067; 
(313)543-0612.00 



LOOKING FOR A LITTLE RESPECT: 

Two new books may help de-ghettoize science fiction 

By Robert K. J. Killheffer 



High-Braille 

M(M& 3BCJ1 U'i 

NieftBlls' 
and Glut's Ency- 
mwtih iii 
Science Fiction 
may earn 
SF mMmbBMi 
respect, but 
is thai same- 
thing it 
really needs? 



For decades, science fic- 
tion has been moving 
closer to literary respect- 
ability — moving in fits and starts, 
certainly, but moving. Today, main- 
stream writers from Margaret 
Atwood to P. D. James dabble in 
the field now and then without 
shame, and Philip K. Dick's nov- 
els appear in upscale Vintage 
trade paperbacks to sit alongside 
the works of literary darlings like 
Manuel Puig and A. S. Byatt. 

This year may mark another 
step in the process. In October, 
W. W. Norton & Co. published 
The Norton Book of Science Fic- 
tion, edited by Ursula K. Le Guin 
and Brian Attebery (with Karen 
Joy Fowler consulting). Le 
Guin's crossover clout and Atte- 
bery's scholarly credentials prom- 
ise a good balance of science- 
fiction knowledge and main- 
stream literary taste — maybe they 
can bridge the gap and produce 
a book that will show skeptics 
that science fiction can offer a lit- 
erary kick along with its famous 
"sense of wonder." And the Nor- 
ton name, renowned for its other 
mammoth literary anthologies 
{The Norton Book cf American 
Short Stores and so forth), 
should convince doubtful readers 
to give it a chance. 

The table of contents, howev- 
er, may be The Norton Book of Sci- 
ence Fiction's Achilles heel. Like 
last year's- Oxford Book of Sci- 
ence Fiction Stories, edited by 
Tom Shippey (Oxford University 
Press), the Norton book features 
an odd assortment of pieces rath- 
er than the one-c lassie -after-an- 
other lineup one might expect. 
Not that the stories are bad — not 
at all. Here are Frederik Pohl's 
"Day Million," Kim Stanley Robin- 
son's "The Lucky Strike," and Nan- 
cy Kress's "Out of All Them 
Bright Stars," among a lot of oth- 
er excellent work. But, more often ■ 
than not. Le Guin and Attebery 



have chosen more obscure sto- 
ries over more obvious (and per- 
haps better) choices: Gene 
Wolfe's "Feather Tigers" instead 
of "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" 
or even "When I Was Ming the 
Merciless"; Roger Zelazny's 
"Comes Now the Power" rather 
than "A Rose for Ecclesiastes"; Wil- 
liam Gibson's "The Gernsback 
Continuum" instead of one ot the 
cyberpunk stories that made him 
famous. Other Norton anthologies 
include one of each author's best- 
known or most-praised works — 
T S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," for 
instance, or O. Henry's "The Gift 
of the Magi"— and maybe that 
makes their tables of contents 
less interesting, but it also 
makes those books perfect intro- 
ductory surveys of their subjects. 
Le Guin and Attebery have gone 
out of their way to make unusual 
selections, and their book won't 
provide non-science-fiction read- 
ers with the sort of introduction to 
the genre they might expect. 

Another recent publishing 
event stands to bring a little 
shine to science fiction's public 
reputation as well. The new edi- 
tion of The Encyclopedia of Sci- 
ence Fiction, edited by Peter 
Nicholls and John Clute (St. Mar- 
tin's Press, June 1993), with its 



THE „ , , 

ENCYCLOPEDIA 

FICTION 

1 A_V r .ffiRMiCI" 111 ' 



1,408-plus pages, is a giant of a 
book, sparing few details and cov- 
ering hundreds of writers and con- 
cepts with scholarship, balance, 
and critical judgment. Ever hear 
of Dan Dare — Pilot of the Future? 
Know that E. E. "Doc" Smith's in- 
itials stood for Edward Elmer? A 
reference book like this, preserv- 
ing mountains of information and 
making it accessible to readers in 
and out of the science-fiction 
world, will surely stand as a state- 
ment of science fiction's vitality 
and cultural significance. 

On a somewhat different note, 
Bruce Lanier Wright's Yesterday's 
Tomorrows (Taylor Publishing, 
June 1993) and The History of the 
Future by Christophe Canto and 
Odile Faliu (Flammarion, Novem- 
ber 1 99-3) provide complementa- 
ry looks at science fiction before 
it started to become respectable. 
Wright surveys the science-fiction 
cinema of the 1950s; tracing 
fads like the giant-creature film 
and the invasion-from-space 
plot. Most of the films were aw- 
ful, of course, but Wright points 
out their merits and importance 
with a connoisseur's eye. 

Canto and Faliu examine the de- 
velopment of images of the future 
from 1850 to 1950. V* see the be- 
ginnings of extravagant utopian 
dreams with the Industrial Revo- 
lution, marvel at the grand city- 
scapes and miraculous machines 
envisioned by the early pulp mag- 
azines, and watch as World War 
II and the unleashing of the atom 
begin to cool the fever of blind op- 
timism. Together with Wright's 
book, The History of the Future pro- 
vides a vivid and engrossing 
look at how science fiction influ- 
ences and reflects popular cul- 
ture at large. Whether or not the 
literary mainstream ever gives it 
the respect it deserves, science 
fiction has the ear of the people: 
'■'to that sense, it's already got all 
the respect it needs. CXI 



LAUNCHED AND GETTING RAVES: 

Omni Online is the place for discussion, debate, and just plain fun 

By Keith Ferrell 



in iis first few 
weeks of 

HaeraiiBR. tecs! 

Grfflne lias 

generate!! a ftuye 

number of 

|-3SyQ!,j£S¥,irt!!&S(i 

Mraflitee 
newfiiesiris, ami 



forum for goasi talk 
ad Miflte 



Harlan Ellison, Greg 
Bear, Pat Cadigan, Con- 
nie Willis, Dean Ing, Wil- 
liam F. Wu, Frank Robinson, 
were among the writers who 
joined Fiction Editor Ellen Datlow, 
Associate Editor Robert Killheffer, 
and me for the "grand opening" 
of Omni Online, live from the fifty- 
first World Science Fiction Con- 
vention, held over Labor Day 
weekend in San Francisco. 

The event, which lasted close 
to six hours, proved to be a fas- 
cinating experience, not without 
its initial stumbles — this was a 
stage to which we are still becom- 
ing accustomed — but with plen- 
ty of surprises and ex- 
citements as well. 
Readers and online us- 
ers from ail over visit- 
ed our "virtual conven- 
tion party," saying hel- 
lo to favorite writers, 
asking questions, offer- 
ing lots of praise (al- 
ways a good idea 
when you've got a writ- 
er online). 

We've taken the les- 
sons we learned in 
San Francisco and are putting 
them to work with other events we 
have in the works or in the plan- 
ning stages. 

We learned, for example, that 
when we set up an electronic au- 
ditorium, the preference is for for- 
mal questions to be submitted 
and addressed by the person oc- 
cupying center stage. Our audito- 
rium events will tend to be the 
well-publicized appearances of 
celebrities, who will both lecture 
and answer questions regarding 
their particular areas of expertise. 

But there's also plenty of room 
for less structured happenings. 
That's why we created our three 
Omni "chat rooms:" the Omni 
Commons, the SF/Fantasy Room, 
and the Antimatter Room. Here, 
we will hold occasional get-togeth- 



ers to address and debate top- 
ics of interest or controversy. 

Since our San Francisco 
launch, we've held evening dis- 
cussions devoted to topics includ- 
ing the nature of consciousness, 
the great challenges facing neu- 
roscience, insights from Ellen Dat- 
low, and more. 

Bui we've also learned that 
sometimes the chat rooms simply 
serve as comfortable and infor- 
mal meeting places for batting 
around ideas. In the course of a 
few evenings online in the Omni 
Commons, we found ourselves dis- 
cussing everything from the life of 
Asimov" to calendar shifts 




through the ages — all of it spon- 
taneous and unplanned. It is amaz- 
ing and gratifying to spend time 
online with people who know so 
much about so many different 
things. One quickly comes to 
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or stop by even when we don't 
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times you'll have the place to your- 
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times you might find one or more 
Omni editors in attendance, 
along with some of your fellow 
readers. And there's no telling 



what we'll be talking about. 

In fact, we may be talking 
about whatever's on your mind. 
Don't be shy about raising topics, 
or requesting that a topic be ad- 
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Nor are the discussions restrict- 
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The nice thing about the mes- 
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joyed watching as 
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develop as Omni On- 
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good and bad, 
themes raised in particular arti- 
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Online and about the magazine 
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Your comments, on- and off-line 
are helping us make both Omni 
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ZS I #%l !*^3 



AN EAR TO THE HEAVENS: 

Improvements to Arecibo could mean dazzling discoveries 

By Steve Nadis 



.t dusk, mist rises 
\out of the vast 
7i eta! bowl like 
steam from a kettle. Set in 
a natural limestone depres- 
sion in the jungles of Puer- 
to Rico, the Arecibo radio 
telescope is surrounded by 
hills, dense vegetation, and 
a thriving population of an- 
imals and insects. "You 
know those little creatures 
that walk around using an- 
tennae as their primary in- 
terface with the rest of the 
world?" asks Steven Ostro, a Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory radar as- 
tronomer who makes frequent ob- 
servations at Arecibo. "Well, this" 
giant antenna here is like that, 
too — our interface with the rest of 
the universe." 

Arecibo's observatory hosts 
the largest curved focusing anten- 
na on the planet — a 1,000-foot- 
diameter dish covering 20 acres — 
plus the world's most powerful ra- 
dar system. "Standing near the 
bowl, a person feels small," Os- 
tro says. "It suggests how small 
our knowledge is compared to 
what could be learned." 

Ostro and other astronomers 
have launched a concerted effort 
to narrow the gap between what 
we know and what we could 
learn. "If you have the world's big- 
gest telescope, you have a respon- 
sibility to push the system to the 
limits," explains Arecibo astrono- 
mer Michael Davis, project 
scientist for the $23-million 
renovation of the prestig- 
ious observatory. 

In 1973, a decade after 
the telescope was built, the 
original reflector was re- 
placed by 38,778 alumi- 
num panels that conform to 
a perfect sphere (to within 
one-tenth of an inch). The 
current upgrade, which 
should wind up in 1 995, con- 
sists of two steps. First, a 




50-foot-high steel fence was erect- 
ed around the dish's perimeter to 
block out thermal radiation from 
the ground and other'radio inter- 
ference that creates headaches 
for astronomers. 

Second, Cornell plans to install 
a "Gregorian" subreflector sys- 
tem to boost the performance of 
the radar and telescope. Two cus- 
tom-made mirrors housed in an 
83-foot-diameter dome attached 
to the platform above the giant 
dish will focus incoming radio 
waves to a single point. This sys- 
tem — the first of its kind except 
for a "mini-Gregorian" demonstra- 
tion unft installed in 1989 — will en- 
able Arecibo astronomers to ob- 
serve a wider chunk of the elec- 
tromagnetic spectrum and also 
open up parts of the spectrum 
they couldn't see before. The new 
equipment will have greater sen- 
sitivity, meaning that signal 
strength will increase while inter- 




ference decreases. 

For what purposes will 
astronomers use this new 

and improved setup? Pul- 
sar hunting will undoubted- 
ly be a hot pursuit. While 
working at Arecibo in early 
1992, Aleksander Wolsz- 
czan found the strongest ev- 
idence yet of planets out- 
side the solar system — two 
planets orbiting around a 
pulsar, a rapidly spinning 
neutron star. The upgraded 
equipment will help astronomers 
spot new pulsars and perhaps oth- 
er planetary systems. 

The Gregorian reflector system 
will facilitate the search for extra- 
terrestrial intelligence, now under- 
way at Arecibo, as well as efforts 
to determine the large-scale dis- 
tribution of matter in the cosmos. 
Cornell astronomer Riccardo Gio- 
vanelli estimates that the improve- 
ments to the observatory will en- 
able scientists to compute distanc- 
es to galaxies 25 times faster 
than they can now — information 
vital for creating three-dimension- 
al maps of the universe. 

Radar astronomy will benefit 
perhaps most of all. The radar 
transmitter, already the strongest 
in the world, will double in pow- 
er. While the current system can 
"barely skim the inner edge of the 
asteroid belt," Ostro says, the en- 
hanced Arecibo will have access 
to asteroids throughout the region 
between Mars and Jupiter. 
All told, the upgrade will 
yield pictures of asteroids 
and comets 20 times more 
detailed than those current- 
ly coming in, according to 
Donald Campbell, associ- 
ate director of Cornell's Na- 
tional Astronomy and Iono- 
sphere Center, which oper- 
ates the observatory. "For 
the first time, we'll be able 
to image the nucleus of a 
comet," he says. DQ 



The Areeibo 
radio telescope's 
receivers and 
other equipment 
(abovel sit on 
a sou-ton platform 
suspended 
above the huge 
reflector dish 
(below). Even with 
its new 

renovations, the 
telescope 
witt be able to 
scan only 3G 
mmwm S3{ lire :■;:::• 




SOVIET SPACE SELLOUT: 

History goes on the block. Plus, beef in a jar, and 

the real test of a marriage 



Hey, have we got a deal for you ! Rus- 
sian spacesuits, white nylon with 
blue trim and chromed zippers, used 
by actual Soviet cosmonauts, one 
size fits all, now on sale. Or how 
about a genuine Russian space cap- 
sule? Factory-installed life-support 
system, low mileage, slightly abraded 
by orbital reentry, original instrumen- 
tation, no reasonable offer refused. 

But, there's more — 200 items, includ- 
ing samples of lunar rock, Yuri Gagar- 
in's emergency chocolate ration, and 
the telegram sent to him by Nikita 
Khrushchev, congratulating him for 
being the first man in space. 

The memorabilia have been import-, 
ed by Sotheby's of New York and will 
be sold by auction on December 11. 
At a special showing, I found the hard- 
ware in a warehouse alongside ba- 
roque antique furniture and marble 
statuary. There was a prototype lunar 
excursion suit for the Russian moon 
walk that never happened; a rubber- 
ized crash dummy named Ivan Ivan- 
ovich, who made two tesi flights before 
Yuri went up in 1961; and, of course, the capsule. 

Officially designated Cosmos 1443 Transport Supply Cap- 
sule, it was designed to hoid three cosmonauts, went into 
orbit to resupply the Salyut /space station in 1983, and 
looked like a miniature version of the U.S. Apollo command 
module. I climbed up its side and dropped down through a 
hatch in the top. Inside, there were 1950s-style square yel- 
low plastic buttons and warning iglm cord-j Is lashed to the 
metal walls with white cloth tape, and an old-fashioned 
clock with black numerals on a white dial. A globe of Planet 
Earth was sealed inside a five-inch Lucite hemisphere; I 
guess it had shown the cosmonauts their position in orbit. 

Underneath a clutter of tanks and gray riietal boxes, I 
found three oval aluminum tubs, each about 30 inches 
long and three inches deep, lined with thin black cloth. I lay 
in one and found it was barely big enough to hold a human 
torso, with foot rests that forced me to pull my knees up to 
my chin. This was how they had blasted into space: in a fe- 
tal position, unable to move, barely able to see out through 
a couple of small portholes. 

The interior reminded me of the cockpit of a B-52, and it 
srnelled old, like the insides of a dusty radio set. 




Outside, I met David Redden, a sen- 
ior vice president of Sotheby's whose 
erudite style makes him sound more 
like an expert on fine art than Soviet 
space hardware. 

"About three years ago," he said, 
"there were reports about the Rus- 
sians trying to market space services. 
I called up the Space Commerce Cor- 
poration in Houston and said I didn't 
want to put a satellite up, but I was 
deeply interested in the artifacts of the 
Space Race, because they are of in- 
credible historic importance." 

At first, no one paid much attention. 
But Redden persisted, and in June 
1992, he roamed Russia in search of 
cosmic tchotchkes. He recalls, "I 
found myself being taken to factories 
around Moscow that owned the early 
prototypes. It would have been incon- 
ceivable for a Westerner to have visit- 
ed them only a few months earlier be- 
cause they also made armaments." 
He also collected memorabilia 
from cosmonauts and their families. 
Everything has been supplied on con- 
signment, in a dramatic display of Russian faith in the free 
market. Since there's never been an auction like this, no one 
knows whether the stuff will sell. 

Redden himself will be the auctioneer, which makes him 
a little nervous. "We're going to assign estimates that seem 
very reasonable," he says, "and hope for the best." 

His idea of "reasonable" may not be yours. The spacesuits 
will start around $40,000. Space dummy Ivan Ivanovich will 
command at least $150,000. But Redden adds, "There will 
be some items that are not necessarily very expensive." 

Doesn't it seem a bit sad to be selling off these national 
treasures? "An awful lot of material has been lost or destroyed 
over the last thirty years," Redden points out, "because no 
one thought it was worth anything. If the sale does well, that 
will act as the most amazing preservative, and this kind of 
material will be treated with more respect in the future. I'm 
personally hoping that most of it will be sold to museums." 
Still, the auction will be open to the general public. So if 
you have a spot in the living room where a Cosmos 1443 
Transport Supply Capsule would fit, and you think the olive- 
drab heat shield would harmonize with the drapes — well, 
here's your chance.— CHARLES PLATT 



Auction, auctions f&erawijse 
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'%'.'_=',',■■■ resonrcii on pregnenolone, a substance ma; Improves the 
memory of mice, may help Aui-mmer's patients. 



MEMORY STIROID 

Forgetful? One day you may 
get a prescription to prod 
your memory. A drug used 
during the 1940s to treat 
rheumatoid arthritis has 
significantly enhanced the 
memory of mice in tests. 

Researchers know that 
levels of two precursor 
steroid hormones, which the 
body makes from choles- 
terol, decline steadily as 
people grow older, dropping 
by about 80 to 90 percent 
from age 25 to 70 in both 
men and women. Restoring 
those steroids might de- 
crease age-related memory 
loss, reasons Eugene 
Roberts, director of the 
neurobiochemistry depart- 
ment at City of Hope Medical 
Center in Duarte, Caliiornia. 

Roberts suggested to 
coresearchers James Flood 
and John Moriey at St. 



Louis's Veterans Adminst-a- 
tion Medical Center that 
they test "the first substance 
from which all these other 
anoyances are made — 
pregnenolone." The sub- 
stance proved- to be "a 
couple hundred times 
potent, molecule for 
molecule, than were the other 
substances we tested." 

Their experiments showed 
pregnenolone helped 
lytxr.-uory mice learn and 
remember— but what 
about humans? 

Roberts and Bruce Miller 
of Harbor General-UCLA 
Hospital in Torrance, 
Caliiornia, recently received 
Food and Drug Administra- 
tion approval to study 
pregnenolone's effective- 
ness in combating 
Alzheimer's disease. 

"We're a long way off' 
from having definitive 
answers about the 



drug's efficacy and when it 
might be available, Roberts 
cautions. If pregnenolone 
ever hits the market, 
"everybody will be adequate- 
ly informed." 

— Peggy Noonan 



"An improper mind is a 
perpetual feast. " 

— Logan Pearsall Smith 

COMPULSIVE 
CANINES? 



Mena Hob :h, ^as ntrigjed 
to learn about a peculiar 
canine syndrome called 

acral lick dermatitis (ALD). 
Dogs suffering from the 
syndrome lick, scratch, and 
bite themselves excessively, 
sometimes to the point of 
creating sores that require 
surgery. Rapoport found this 
behavior strikingly similar to 
the repetitive hand-washing 



and nail-biting exhibited by 
humans diagnosed with 
obsessive-compulsive disor- 
der (OCD). She and her 
colleagues devised an exper- 
iment to investigate ALD that 
would also shed light on the 
analogous human disorder. 

The researchers gave 
serotonin uptake blockers, a 
class of drugs (including 
Prozac) that also alleviates 
the symptoms of OCD 
patients, to dogs afflicted 
with ALD. Over the course of 
the 11-week study, the dogs' 
ALD -associated behaviors 
decreased. "No one knows 
exactly how these drugs 
work, but they affect the brain 
chemical serotonin in some 
way," Rapoport says. 




THE PREGNANCY 

OF ALPINE SALAMANDERS 

CONTINUES FOR 

THREE YEARS AND ALWAYS 

RESULTS IN TWINS. 



Doctors still don't 
know what precisely 
causes ALD or OCD. 
However, research- 
ers studying cat 
brains have found a 
cluster of cells thai 
produce and re- 
lease this same 
chemical messen- 
serotonin, when- 
ever the cat engages in 
grooming behavior. Rap- 
oport speculates that dogs' 
brains may house a similar 
'grooming control center" 
that goes haywire in the 
case of ALD. 



To learn more about the 
origins of ALD, a bank has 
been established for the 
brains of clogs that exhibited 
the disorder. Anatomical 
examination of these brains 
may identify the root of the 
problem, eventually leading 
to more effective treatment 
for human OCD sufferers. 

— Steve Nad is 

grains or glass 

When you hear about glass 
being recycled, you tend to 
figure that it's being made 
into, well, more glass. But a 
Canadian company 
has come up with a more 
interesting use for waste 
glass: It grinds the glass up 
into GlasSand and uses the 
grains for everything from 
sandblasting to water filters. 
The Calgary-based Vitre- 
ous Environmental Group 
(VEG) has invented a 
machine called the GlassBlast- 
er, a mighty crusher that can 
pulverize glass bottles — 




hclua no ihe.r caps, labels, 
and even the stale liquid 
inside— into grains so fine, 
they make conventional sand 
look like coarse gravel. 

The applications for this 
ground glass, says VEG 
president Pat Cashion, are 
legion. It's better for 
Scincb'asting than sand is, 
Cashion says, "because it's 
harder." When mixed with 
concrete or paint, the glass 
granules add a shimmer. 
They can also be used in the 
manufacture of roofing tiles, 
as the "choker grit" that 
underlies golf greens, or as 
the guts of a new and better 
breed of water filter. "Our 
tests show that GlasSand 
■'il'ers water better than sand 



THE EARTH RECEIVES 
ONLY ONE-HALF 
OF ONE-BILLIONTH OF 
THE SUN'S 
RADIANT ENERGY. 



or cnarcoal," Cashion says, 
"and environmentalists like it 
because it's using a recycled 
product to recycle water," 

In fact, the GlassBlaster's 
environmental assets have 
Cashion and VEG most 
excited. When the glass- 
crushing technique catches 
on, Cashion says, "it'll take 
mountains of glass out 
of landfill dumps. That's a 
tremendous benefit in itself, 
but it also means that we 
won't have to dig up the earth 
to get sand." — Bill Lawren 



"A government is 

the only known vessel that 
leaks from the top." 

— James Reston 





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cocaine and put it back 




together again .with biologi- 




cal px-penes" that enable 


■■An organic chemist at the- 


it to teli them when the brain 


Research Triangie Institute 


has ceased to produce- 


in North Carolina ha-: 


enough' dopamine. Their 


concocted a compound 


research is a collaborative 


based en cocaine ;r.-. ; .i 


effort also invoVng Jonns 


could help doctors detect 


Hopkins Univsrs iy a : ;c :.:- 


Parkinson's c sease far 


Addiction Research Center. 


' earlier than they can now. 


To- detect Parkinson's, 


\\c cure exit's m presen: 


RTI-55 must be combined 


■ for Parkinson's,. a nervous- 


with a radioactive label and 


' system disorder Mat up.ds iy 


injected into the blood- 


causes uncontrollable 


stream,- where medical 


trembling and eventually. 


imaging systems pick it up. 


interferes with musc:e 


' The compound should 


..activity. However, if its 


attach to nerve-cell recep- 


symptoms are'spotted eariy' 


tors in an area of the brain 


enough, they can be 


where large clusters of 


alleviated with a form of 


dopamine-p reducing cells 


dopamine, an essential 


are normally found. If it 


chemical messenger 


doesn't, doctors have solid 


The new compound, 


evidence of Parkinson's. 


called RTI-55, is the first ' 


Carroll hopes the Food 


-"with the potential to 


and Drug Administration 


measure neurons in the 


will approve RTI-55 more 


brain," says. Ivy Carroll, .'the 


quickly than it does other 


Institute's director of organ- 


substances because it's.. a 


c and '"erjic nal chemislry. 


diagnostic tool rather than'a . 


Ho and 1- s colleagues have 


medical treatment. 


'"torn down' the structure of 


— -George Nobbe 




DruTiruuunn 




Stop! Before slicing that ring on your pawner's Singer', you might 
want to take a suo/oy I ~-:r your rr.nrriage iviii last. 



TRUE OR FALSE: TILL 
DEATH DO US PART 

Thousands of starry-eyed 
young couples, facing a 
higher than 50-percent 
likelihood that their marriage 
will end in divorce, have 
begun taking a 125-question 
test that predicts their 
chances of ending their 
union in court. 

"We can predict with 
eighty to eighty-five percent 
accuracy which couples will 
divorce," says David Olson, 
the University of Minnesota 
family psychologist who 
devised the questionnaire, 
which he calls PREPARE. It 
poses questions on topics 
including communication, con- 
flict resolution, personality, 
finances, religion, parenting, 
family and friends, sex, and 
ega^anan rales. 

A sample of the type of 
questions the couples en- 
counter: "I expect some of 
our romantic love will fade 
after marriage"; "We openly 
discuss problems and usual- 
38 OMNI 



ly :-nd gooc so'u:ions"; and, 
"We have some important 
disagreements that never 
seem to get resolved." 

The analysis of the ques- 
tionnaire relies not only 
on how the couples answer 
each question, but, more 
important, o.n how 
many items they disagree. 

More than 20,000 coun- 
selors and members of the 
clergy — including U.S. mili- 
tary chaplains — now encour- 
age or require couples to 
take the test before they will 
marry them, Olson says, 

Another study, funded by 
the National Institute of 
Mental Health and pun; shed 
last year by University of 
Washington psychologists, 
"largely confirms" the PRE- 
PAHz inesis that it's possible 
to predict divorce, says 
■■'e-iisarchet Kim Buehlman. 
"We found that the single 
most important prediction of 
divorce was the husband's 
being withdrawn and disap- 
pointed," she says. 

Other key indicators of 



the posmve 

EFFECTS OF 
POISON 

Tiny injections of an 
otherwise deadly poison 
have yielded dramatic 
results- in test subjects -who' 
stut~er severely. 

Botulinum toxin, also 
called Botox, is a neuropara- 
lytic agent, according to 
.Mitchell F. Brin, a Columbia 
University neurologist at the 
College of Physicians 
and Surgeons. "Stuttering 
is deafly a coordination 
problem," he says, explain- 
ing that the. toxin relieves 
stuttering because.it relax- 
es the vpcalis muscle 
complex that controls the 
ability to speak. It -deadens' 
the nerve endings at the 
neuromuscular junction of 
the little vocal muscle for 
.up to five months. 

"Decreasing the duration 
of stuttering blocks trans- 
lates into increased fluen- 
cy," declares Brin, who. 
developed the approach - 
with David Rosenfeld of the 
Baylor College of Medicine 
and Andrew Blitzer at 
Columbia. Their technique 
uses an electromyogram 
machine to guide -the 
injections-, pushing the toxin 
through the cricothyroid 
membrane, just' below the' 
Adam's apple. 

marital health she cited were: 
whether the couple glorified 
is struggles against hard- 
ship together or saw them as 
chaotic and hopeless and 
whether couples recounted 
things together and consid- 
ered each other to be best 
friends, If a couple can give 



Four of the seven initial 
patients showed significant 
improvement, and the 
others reported mild de- 
creases in stuttering epi- 
sodes, both in their own 
subjective estimations and 
on a rating scale that 
measures the severity of 
speech impediments. 

The scientists suspected 
that their technique would. 
work because Brin had- 
successfully used it on 500 
other patients with a - 
disorder called spasmodic 
dysphonia, which.causes 
vocal -cord spasms. Botox 
has also been used to treat 
a.variety of involuntary 
movements associated with 
everything from strokes to 
writer's cramp. 

—George Nobbe 




'elaking a 'tiny vocal muscle 
i alleviate z-r.nterng. 



great detail about how they 
met and their first date, 
Buehlman says, they proba- 
bly won't divorce. 

Ten to 15 percent of 
couples decide to abandon 
their plans for marriage 
after taking PREPARE, Olson 
says. — Ben Barber 




t:of 



1! II II I 



THE NERVE(S) OF 
THOSE SALMON 

Something occurs 
in the- brains of 
coho salmon just 
before they migrate, a re- 
organization that some- 
how triggers the growth of 
new nerve fiber. If he 
^ can unravel the mysterious 





growth process Sven Fboes- 
son at the University of 
Alaska's Seward Institute of 
Marine Science could 
one day help 80.000 
Americans who annually 
suffer crippling brain 
and spinal-cord injuries. 

"It's my hypothesis that 
in evolution, we, as humans 
and mammals, lost most 
of the -capacity for nerve 
regeneration and repair," 
says the researcher, who has 



devoted six years to : 

salmon/with the assistance 
of $1 million in grants from 
the federal government. 
Salmon brains have a 
lot in common with human 
brains. They have the 
equivalent of a neocortex, the 
thin outer layer of the 
brain's cortex that controls 
higher mental functions 
like; -liclligence, conscious- 
ness, sight, and smell, 
Loiiesson explains. The 
pathways, or connections, in 
the fish's brain circuitry 
correspond exactly to 
Yet the fish can grow 
new nerve fiber at midlife 
when they begin their 
celebrated 18-month migra- 
tion to and from the 
streams where they hatched. 
Human beings, on the 
other hand, grow essentially 



THE VENUS DAY IS 

LONGER THAN 

THE VENUS YEAR. THE 

PLANET SPINS ON 

ITS AXIS ONCE EVERY 243 

EARTH DAYS AND 

ORBITS THE SUN EVERY 

224 EARTH DAYS. 



ir :he sjbsiancc-s of the brain 
control the growth," Ebbes- 
son says. 'The brain 
chemistry is the same, and 
some of the paths from 
the spinal cord are organized 
identically. We even know 
how to delay these 
happenings, by removing 
sti-culi like light, or make 
them happen earlier, by in- 
creasing water temperature, 
but we don't yet under- 
stand what actually triggers 
nerve-fiber growth." 

—George Nobbe 




no new nerve eel 
after we reach the age of one 
year, Ebbesson says. He 
aims to find out exactly what 
the salmon have in their 
brains that we don't. 
"We don't know what 



"Wo occupation is 

so delightful to me as the 

culture of the Earth 

and no culture comparable 

to that of the garden." 

— Thomas Jefferson 



mignon 

Rushhomefrom work and 
'defrost a minute steak. Then 
sprinkle it with BMP and 
enjoy— for $1,19 per pound— 
the taste of filet mignon. 

Filet mignon? 

BMP- (beefy-meaty-pep- 
tide) is just a simple, 
proteinlike string of eight 
amino acids linked to two 
glutamates-, but it enhances 
hamburgers, soyburgers, 
or leftovers by giving them 
the -distinct flavor of beef.. 
That a single substance 
can have such a Critical rOle' 



in the taste of meat is 
astonishing. The aroma 
of baked bread, for 
examoie, arises from a 
combination of more 
than 295 different. Chemi- 
cals, including 86 bases, 
21 acids, 19 alcohols, and 
11 hydrocarbons. 

Researchers. at Japan's. 
Okayama University first 
discovered BMP in the late 
1970s while using, a 
laboratory enzyme to digest 
beef. They and other 
Japanese 'esearchers soon 
developed a synthetic 
Version-, but Japan hasn't 
pursued practical 



applications of BMP. 

"BMP doesn't have a 
meaty flavor oh its own," 
says Arthur Spanier, a 
U.S. Department of Agricul- 
ture anirriaf physiologist. 
"It enhances the existing 
beef flavor." 

Some would-be entrepre- 
neurs want to take. a shortcut 
and geret'eaiiy engineer 
BMP directly into soybeans. 
"You could make soy- 
burgers directly," Spanier 
says, '"but just because you 
insert a p'oiein iir L o a plait 
or an animal doesn't 
necessarily meari the pro- 
tein will be ■ :i !-.:.■■. i 



possibility may be to 
genet caliy engineer BMP 
into bacteria and use it as a 
food-flavoring additive."' 

Unlike MS'G, another . 
glutamate compound, BMP 
is a natural part of food 
and shouldn't trigger ad- 
verse reactions. And it 
should be relatively simple ■ 
to produce, using either 
genetic- engineering 
or' chemical synthesis. Of 
course, the Food. and 
Drug Administration mus: 
first study BMP to ascertain 
: . ■. i iv a process that 
will take at least a.few years; : 
— Robert Loughran 




could not be con- 
fined to his own time 
Michel de Notredamt 
better known to us 



into the luture by the 
clairvi 



id, and An 

(wly published 



j perilous enough to 



with the mere mentio 



nd Now, at the end of 



THE GREAT PROPHET NOSTRADAMUS HAS TIME-TRAVELED 
FROM RENAISSANCE FRANCE LNTO OUR OWN DAY AND AGE. 




scope or a tarot-card reading, I was curi- 
ous to discover why they had persisted 
over the centuries. From the little that 
history reveals of events in the actual 
life and times of this famous prophet, 
Nostradamus was born late in Decem- 
ber of 1503, at Saint-Remy-de-Prov- 
ence. His Jewish family had only re- 
cently converted to the Catholic faith 
and, in compliance with local law, 
changed their name from Gassonet to 
Notredame. Had they not done this, 
they would have been forced to leave 
Provence and their property behind. 

Michel, an excellent student, attend- 
ed school in Avignon and then at the 
University of Montpellier. Upon gradu- 
ation at age 22, he followed the custom 
of other contemporary scholars and Lati- 
nized his name so that it became Nos- 
Iradamus instead of Notredame. Four 
years later, after completing medical 
studies that certified him a physician, 
he assumed another entitled affectation: 
the special four-cornered hat that 
served the same identifying purpose in 
those days as the initials M.D. serve to- 
day, The only surviving portrait of Nos- 
tradamus painted during his lifetime de- 
picts him in his physician's garb. His 
clear eyes stare off into the distance, 
or perhaps into the distant future. His 
long, full beard does not obscure his 

44 OMNI 



rosy cheeks or the smile on his lips. 

The painting poses Nostradamus out- 
doors, with the columns of a great edi- 
fice rising behind his right shoulder and 
a tree in the distance behind his left, as 
though to emphasize the way a good 
physician forges links between ac- 
quired learning and respect for the nat- 
ural world. He rests his right hand on a 
globe while the left holds a pair of com- 
passes and a telescope. Despite the im- 
age, history tells us, and despite the 
fact that Nostradamus had a great in- 
terest in astrology — casting horoscopes 
and making predictions based on plane- 
tary positions — he was no star gazer, 
The world would have to wait for more 
than 40 years to pass after Nostrada- 
mus's death for Galileo to point a tele- 
scope toward the sky, 

Nostradamus made his reputation as 
a doctor of extraordinary skill who 
gave generously to the poor. His grand- 
father Pierre had also worked as a phy- 
sician, which was one of the few pro- 
fessions open to Jews of that time. Nos- 
tradamus was said to possess an un- 
canny ability to help victims of the 
plague recover their health. Some mod- 
ern interpreters believe he had knowl- 
edge of infection control far ahead of 
his time and only pretended to use herb- 
al remedies to avoid trouble with the 



authorities, who could have had him 
burned at the stake for practicing mag- 
ic. In any case, the plague claimed the 
lives of the good doctor's own wife and 
two young children in 1537 while he 
was abroad in the countryside, minis- 
tering to his patients. He later remarried 
and raised another family of three 
sons and three daughters, 

Companions report that Nostrada- 
mus worked hard and slept little, enjoy- 
ing good health until his advanced 
years, when he suffered attacks of 
gout. He died at age 63 of heart fail- 
ure, in his sleep, about a year short of 
the date he predicted for his own end. 

Because he was already famous dur- 
ing his lifetime, much of what we know 
about Nostradamus is the stuff of leg- 
end. A favorite story describes the 
time he fell to his knees in the mud be- 
fore a simple Franciscan monk, Broth- 
er Felice Peretti. Nostradamus kissed 
the young man's robes, explaining 
terward that he was merely paying prop- 
er homage to the pope. This was not a 
case of mistaken identity, his biogra- 
phers assert, but of predictive power, 
since Peretti later became Pope Sixtus 
V— In 1585, nineteen years after Nos- 
tradamus died. 

Another oft-told tale recalls Nostrada- 
mus's visit to Paris at Queen Catherine's 



News Blasts from the Past: 

SOME FUTURE PREDICTIONS FROM THE PROPHET OF FRANCE 



1994: A Russian spacecraft will 
crash in America on August 4, killing 
two people, says V. J. Hewitt in Nos- 
tradamus: The End of the Millennium 
(Simon and Schuster, 1991), based 
on her decoding systems as applied 
to Century III, quatrain 65. Nostra- 
damus's original text: 

When the sepulcher of the great 

Roman shall be found, 
The next day after a Pope shall he 

elected, 
Who shall not he much approved 

by the Senate, 
Poisoned, his blood in the sacred 

chalice. 
The same verse, after application 
of Hewitt's decoding system: 

"A Russian spacecraft will crash 
on America, Two people killed. The 
leader Yeltsin will hardly listen to 
the acrimony. A fool shown up by 
bloodshed." 

1 996-1 999: The ozone hole over Ant- 
arctica continues to cause concern, 
in Hewitt's continued decoding of 
Century ill, quatrain 65. Between 
1993 and 1997, we see a second 
hole over the Arctic Ocean. 

From the original text above, 
Hewitt's interpretation: 

"The Great Hole continues in the 
ozone layer over Antarctica. The Arc- 
tic Ocean — another one opens up. It 
threatens to ruin the world, which can- 
not by itself avoid the crackling 
scythe, the crackling pits." 

1998: On August 5, someone will at 
last capture good film footage of 
extraterrestrials encountered some- 
where on Earth. The creatures then 
flee to their home world, according to 
Hewitt's reading of Century I, quatrain 
42. The cinema verite version of E.T., 
televised on August 6, will overturn 
skepticism about alien life. 
The original Nostradamus text: 
The tenth of the Calends of April, 

Cothic account, 
Raised up again by malicious 
persons, 



The light put out, a diabolical, 
assembly, 

Seek for the bones of the overs 
and Psellus. 

The same verse, after application 
of Hewitt's decoding system: 

"On a road someone televizes 
[sic] intelligent aliens from the sky 
with a broken, limping appearance. 
He (or she) will put them to flight. He 
sends them home, although here 
they alter belief." 

1 999: Between November 23 and De- 
cember 21, the War of Wars will be- 
gin, according to Henry C. Roberts' 
interpretation of Century I, quatrain 
1 6, from The Complete Prophecies of 
Nostradamus (Nostradamus, 1982). 
The original text: 

When a fish pond that was a 
meadow shall be mowed, 

Sagittarius being in the ascendant, 

Plague, Famine, Death by the 
military hand, 

The century approaches renewal. 

Nostradamus scholar Jean-Charles 
de Fontbrune, in Nostradamus: Count- 
down to Apocalypse (Holt, Rinehart 
and Winston, 1983) also predicts a 
great war in this year, but on the 
basis of a different verse, Century 1, 
quatrain 51, as follows: 

Heads of Aries, Jupiter and 
Saturn, 

O Eternal God, What changes 
there shall be! 

After an era his evil time returns, 

Gaule and Italy, what commotion! 

Meanwhile, in his book, Nostrada- 
mus: Prophecies on World Events 
(Liveright, 1961), Stewart Robb says 
the prophet predicted the War of Arma- 
geddon for 1999. His basis is the 
text of Century X, quatrain 72: 

In the year 1999 and seven 
months, 

From the skies shall come an 
alarmingly powerful king, 

To raise again the great King of 
the Jacquerie, 

Before and after, Mars shall reign 
at wit I. 



Of course, some researchers famil- 
iar with Nostradamus's numerology 
claim the year of Armageddon is not 
1999, but rather 3797 a.d. 

2000: Humans land on Mars, predicts 
Hewitt from her interpolation of Centu- 
ry X, quatrain 22. The original is noth- 
ing like Hewitt's "decoded" version: 
"Mars known. A journey to the 
planet near to the great age. A new 
power which grows instead of less- 
ens. A staggering success. Posses- 
sion outside the rocket." 

2007: The dead, casualties of the 
great war, will rise up, says Roberts, 
based on Century X, quatrain 74: 
The year seven of the great 

number being past, 
There shall be seen the sports of 

the ghostly sacrifice, 
Not far from the great ate of the 

millennium, 
That the buried shall come out of 
their graves. 

2055: The predictions of Nostrada- 
mus will all have been shown "to 

bear fruit," avows Roberts, reading 
from Century 111, quatrain 94: 

For five hundred years no account 

shall be made 
Of him who was the ornament of 

his time. 
Then of a sudden he shall give so 

great a tight, 
That for that age he shall make 

them to be most contented. 

2150: The world will see a complete 
revision of the religious concepts and 
perhaps a new world order leading to 
one religion for all people, according 
to Roberts' interpretation of Century 
IX, quatrain 72: 

Once more shall the Holy Temple 

be polluted, 
And depredated by the Senate of 

Toulouse, 
Saturn two, three cycles revolving, 
in April, May, people of a new 
leaven. 



■oquos- in "556, wnen he was awak- 
ened in the night by a young page 
knocking loudly at his door. The youth, 
frantic at the loss of one of his master's 
favorite hunting dogs, hoped the fa- 
mous seer could help him. fSlostrada- 
mus is said to have barked his afiswei 
through the closed door without getting 
out of bed and without even wafting far 
the page to identify himself or pose the 
question. He told the page to set out 
at once on the road to Orleans, where 
he would find the missing dog being led 
on a leash. Indeed, so the story goes, 
the page journeyed only an hour before 
the prophecy came true. 

In 1550, following two decades of 
' medical practice. Nostradamus pub- 
lished the first of his annual almanacs, 
This book, and 15 more like it, com- 
bined readily predictable information, 
such as the timing of the phases of the 
moon, with insights about coming 
events that rested on extensive knowl- 
edge of astrology. 

Having launched a second success- 
ful career as a published author, Nos- 
tradamus also wrote a practical book 
about home remedies and cosmetics 
and later translated Galen's classical 
texts on anatomy. But he is best remem- 
bered and most revered ior a series of 
prophetic poems called Centuries, pub- 



lished between 1555 and 1558. 

These thousand obscure verses, 
each consisting of a quatrain, read like 
a cross between liturgy and riddle: 

When the serpents shall come to 

encompass the air. 
The French blood shall be angered 

by Spain, 
By them, a great number shall 

perish, 
The chief flies, and hides in the 

rushes of the marshes. 

— Century I. quatrain 19 

The fire shall take by night in two 

houses, 
Many shall be stifled and burnt by 



it, 



s // shall for certain 



Near two i 

happen 
Sun, Arc, Caper, they shall all be 

mortified, 

— Century II, quatrain 35 

These quatrains, like all the others, 
lose something in the translation — the 
rhyme. In old French, the first and third 
lines of each quatrain rhyme wirn each 
other as do the second and fourth. Be 
that as it may, quatrain 19, above, is 
said to predict events during World War 
II, when the French we'c '.hreatenec oy 




"You know, honey, it would do our budget wonders if we gave 
each other groceries. " 



:he Nazs in the air and the Sparer- a: 
the common border, and the French 
president fled Paris without his entou- 
rage. As for quatrain 35, Nostradamus 
pundi:s have yet to unravel its upsetting 
mystery. Until they do, however, it's 
worth noting the astrological nature of 
the verse. "Arc" and "Caper," for in- 
stance, may refer to the con -::e 1 1 at ions 
Sagittarius the archer and Capricornus 
the sea goat wh ch lie next to each oth- 
er a org the zodiac. The prediction, not 
yet tied to an actual event, involves a 
ca:sKTGphic decision to be made in a 
town near two rivers. 

The tendency of these predictions to 
dart back in forth in time — often, at- 
tached to events that have not yet oc- 
curred — makes sense to those who a.d- 
vec^is Nosl'iidavuss wings as vison- 
ary truth. The first dozen quatrains of 
Century I alone, according :o \jcstraoa- 
mus scholar Henry C. Roberts, predict 
events scattered over sevcai centimes 
(and several countries) from the eigh- 
teenth-century Reign of Terror during 
the French Revolution to the Russian 
Revolution of T917 to the rise of Benito 
Mussolini in Italy in the prelude to 
World War II. in a sense, the Centuries 
behave like a time-release capsule, 
full of tiny quatrain grains set to go off 
at different epochs in time. 

The word centuries, as Nostradamus 
used it in the title, referred to his 12 
books, each structured to include 100 
ouabains. But given the subject "after, 
one also naturally thinks of the Centu- 
ries as having a meaning in time — roll- 
ing through the centuries toward the fu- 
ture. By either definition, Nosfradamus's 
centuries are a little like Biblical days, 
unconstrained by any precise number 
of hours or years. For instance, the 
date Nostradamus named for the end 
of the world can be figured in several 
ways; depending on the chosen start- 
ing, point, so that Armageddon arrives 
in the year 2000 or later, in 3797. 

Indeed, the mesmerizing rhythms 
and rich imagery of the Centuries 
seem to inspire new meaning in the eye 
of each new beholder — like inkblots in 
a Rorschach test, with every latter-day 
interpreter free to read his or her own 
vision into the written words. 

According to the scholars, the writ- 
ten words themselves can be treated 
like anagrams, supposedly constructed 
by Nostradamus to hide the true signif- 
icance of each prophecy until the mo- 
ment of revelation. Author V. J. Hewitt, 
who believes herself to be the true in- 
terpreter that Nostradamus pred ciec 
would one day come along, tafegs mis 
path to its extreme. Hewit: has oevisec 
a system of substituting letters in the 
words of each quatrain to yield actual 



daies for specific events :o occur 
through the year 2001 . Her practice of 
"■-.eihodological and repeated letter sub- 
stitution suggests that Nostradamus 
had foreknowledge of many twertieth- 
century personalities, including Sad- 
dam Hussein, Nelson Mandela Marga- 
ret Thatcher, Boris Yeltsin, Richard 
Gere, Jane Fonda, and Ted Turner. 

Verse 35 from Century I, for exam- 
ple, is a famous prophecy which is gen- 
erally conceded to predict the death of 
France's King Henry II in a 1559 joust- 
ing accident: 



The young Lion snail c 

old one 

In a martial field by a single duel. 
In a golden cage he shall put oul his 

eye, 



Wielding her tecnr que. Hewitt mas- 
sages this quatrain in successive 
Steps so that it unfolds, like a dream an- 
alyzed by Freud, By substituting letters 
a bit at a time, shi 

with predicting a whole sweep of events 
over vast geog-apnic areas and centu- 
ries of time. To see how Hewitt's cryp- 
tography changes the original verse, 
jusi read the list of predictions, with the 



"decoded" quatrain, below; 

A Caiifornia Earthquake. "After the 
earthquake, [he United States is crack- 
ling within a radius with stretches fron 
coast to coast. Everything will redden 
Under a hot sun, Grops are on fire, 
flocks and herds die. Grain is scarce." 

Upheavals in Africa. "South Africa: 
President Nelson Mancea himself, a c'y 
ing man, manages the register of mul- 
tiplying Black voices. The dry heat 
grows. A quartered virus plucks a 
page of history." 

Reversal of the Aging Process. "How 
medical treatments for the d sesss of 
aging; the old, grown young with 
smooth skin. The senile lose their con- 
fusion. Robotic luxury, A pure rhythm 
kicks at lumps." 

Of course, clever critics can make 
quick work of interpreters who take 
such license. Even when followed 
more literally, the quatrains, with all 
their accompanying vagueness, can 
make the prophet seem to fall apart 
like a straw man. 

But despite the rise of physics and 
the disappearance from everyday ex- 
perience of mystical signs and won- 




:-~~V-''4"-'y-i--'- . : 



ders, 1 2 of the Centuries persist. There 
is, after all, something comforting in the 
notion that a character out of history 
could have correctly called cond lions 
of the present time. Whether or not Nos- 
tradamus saw the future remains- a mat- 
ter of conjecture. But the human need 
to believe he did is a matter of record, 

As for me, I don't accept Nostrada- 
mus as a true see'— not because of any 
personal shortcoming of his, but be- 
cause I don't see time as a river that 
can be entered i'om anywhere along 
the bank, As I see it, if we could 
g irnpse the future, then we would try 
to cnange it. And if we succeeded, we 
would live out a different future from the 
one we saw. If changing the future is 
impossible, il the world unfolds accord- 
ing to a plan sat in motion eons ago, 
Ihen iree will is an illusion, and we 
have far more to fear than earthquakes 
and wars. We face the despair born of 
knowing we do not shape the world but 
are merely shaped by it, whether into a 
gold mine or a sand dune, through no 
action of our own. 

Although I deny Nostradamus the 
gift of future sight, I think he believed 
what he said. As a Renaissance man, 
he practiced the arts of his time. Mag- 
ic was proscribed by the Church and 
punished by the Inquisition, but astrol- 
ogy was respec:able. He studied a com- 
bhatior of aerology and astronomy as 
part of the standard curriculum at 
school in Avignon. And he was the fa- 
vorite astrologer oi Gather ne oe Medi- 
ci, queen of France. At her service, he 
was politic enough in life, as in death, 
to refrain from prophecies specific 
enough to prove themselves wrong and 
upset his standing in her eyes, 

During a July 1556 encounter, for in- 
stance, Catherine asked Nostradamus 
which of her four sons would become 
King. He told her that all of them would 
rule, and eventually, three did. But Nos- 
tradamus could hardly have answered 
otherwise under the circumstances, 
a no oesides. nis:ory sec~eo unlikely to 
unfold differently. The prediction also 
had the air of political expediency, 
If Nostradamus really knew then that 
Catherine's sons would all rule France, 
succeeding one another due to early 
death, he kept his mouth shut, leaving 
her free to imagine that they might 
reign simultaneously as kings of neigh- 
boring countries. 

For his service. Nostradamus never- 
theless won the queen's favor and life- 
long protection. He returned home af- 
ter the meeting to resume work on the 
Centuries, the first volume of which he 
had already published, and to his wife 
and young son, Cesar, born in 1555. 

A book ol -emarkab c popularity, ttie 



CeniL/riss has remairec continuously in 
print for more than 400 years. I had no 
trouble finding a copy at the bookstore 
in my neighborhood, where I frequent- 
ly have to order the books I want to 
read. No other prophet since Bib! ca1 
times has held as constant a place in 
the hearts and minds of the populace 
as Nostradamus. Whether by dint of the 
audacity of his future vision or the dream- 
like rnagery of his verses, he has liter- 
ally triumphed over time. 

This conquest began a few decades 
after the prophet's death in 1566. His 
follower and self- pro claimed friend, 
Jean Aime de Chavigny, wrote a de- 
tailed biography of Nostradamus and, 
in 1594, the first explication of Centu- 
ries. Almost every century since has 
seen a reexa 1 " na:on cf Nostradamus 
by schoa's wno , "e;nterpieted the quat- 
rains in light of recent history and rees- 
:abl shed their strange sense of peren- 
nial foreboding. After Chavigny came 
Guyand in 1693, Bareste in 1840, and 
P. V. Piobb in 1929, to name just a few. 
Indeed, although the works of Nostrada- 
mus lack the spiritual guidance of the 
Bible or the poetic power of Shake- 
speare's plays. Noslradamus finds fol- 
lowers everywhere: People worry 
about the future. Even those who scoff 
at the book and try to dismiss it seem 
to contribute to its endurance. 

For Nostradamus, the need to create 
works of endurance may have been sim- 
ple, indeed. In the original prose pref- 
ace to volume 1 ol Csniurios. Nostraca- 
mus offers a hint as to why he under- 
;ook to write the work in the first place. 
The preface oecms. ■ , G , "eet ngs and Hap- 
piness to Cesar Nostradamus my son." 
The prophet was 52 years old and just 
starting his second family. He was en- 
tering what today might be cons'cered 
a period of midlife crisis and was cer- 
tainly of an age, given the limited lon- 
gevity of centuries past, to be thinking 
of his own death, yet he held his only 
living baby in his arms. However many 
ponenis Nostradamus could see in his 
nightly trances, he surely knew he 
woud not see hs boy grow into a man. 

Writing the Centuries fcvged Nostra- 
damus's link with Cesar's future, as he 
strove to discern the sort of world that 
awaled the child. Through the Centu- 
ries. Nostradamus a. so ea.sed his own 
passage "torn his a otted t me to a time- 
less eternity. He had done as much for 
others all his life — offsetting the mun- 
dane woes of his horoscope clients by 
f ind:ng reassurances n no pesiiiors of 
the heavenly bodies and holding the 
hands of his patients as they faced the 
uncertainty of death. 

That is as much of a bridge to the fu- 
ture as anyone can hope lo-build.DQ 



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keys, sea turtles, and the living corals of 
the world's second largest reef system. 

Several hundred miles away, in the 
dense, vine-clogged jungle of Mexico's 
Chiapas state, the imposing stone tem- 
ples of the Mayan city of Palenque at- 
tract thousands of visitors every year. 
But unless they search out the now- 
closed museum on the fringe of the 
site and read the plaque attached to 
the facade, they might never know that 
here— as in Sian Ka'an — they are in the 
presence of a monument that belongs 
to an elite club whose other "members" 
include the Great Wall of China, the Tow- 
er of London, Africa's Victoria Falls, and 
our Statue of Liberty. 

The "club" is the World Heritage 
List, created by the World Heritage Con- 
vention, an international treaty ap- 
proved in 1972 and since then signed 
by 134 of the world's 188 nations. The 
List consists of natural and cultural 
sites and monuments that meet specif- 
ic criteria designed to verify their "out- 
standing universal value." 

To get on the List, a site or monu- 
ment must meet at least one of several 
criteria that emphasize both uniqueness 
and superlative qualities. A natural 
site, for example, might qualify because 
it is an "outstanding example" of a 
stage of the earth's evolutionary histo- 
ry or the habitat for an important threat- 



ens!.: animal or slant species. A man- 
made site or monument, such as a build- 
ing or a group of buildings, might make 
the List because it is a "unique artistic 
achievement" or because it represents 
a civilization that has disappeared. 

"If we want to protect the world for 
future generations so they can enjoy the 
benefits of the work of nature, of mil- 
lennia, the diversity of plants and spe- 
cies, the World Heritage List can help 
us do that," says Bernd von Droste, a 
German ecologist who directs the pro- 
gram from the World Heritage Centre at 
UNESCO headquarters in Paris. (He is 
photographed on the opening page.) 

A sedate, systematic bureaucrat on 
the podium when he was conducting 
business at the World Heritage Commit- 
tee's annual meeting in Santa Fe, New 
Mexico, last December, in an interview 
von Droste revealed himself as a pas- 
sionate advocate for the World Heritage 
Convention as a tool for nothing less 
than saving the world, 

"Why do we need diversity of spe- 
cies? Of culture?" He answered his own 
question. "We need them for human sur- 
vival, Since we don't know about the fu- 
ture, it's better to keep all the knowl- 
edge we 'have about how to adapt." 

One purpose of the Santa Fe meet- 
ing was to celebrate 20 years of the 
World Heritage Convention wr ch the 



delegates did at a series of festive re- 
ceptions and dinners sponsored by lo- 
cal officials and cultural institutions. But 
they also heard a clarion call from von 
Droste, who reported, "This year many 
more World Heritage sites.are severely 
damaged or under threat than ever be- 
fore in the history of the Convention." 
and cited examples including earth' 
quake damage to the pyramids and otb 
er Egyptian monuments and war dam' 
age to the medieval city of Dubrovnik. 

Population growth, widespread pov- 
erty and lack of education, global w 
ing and acid rain ("It creates stons deg- 
radation that affects monuments"), cli 
mate change, the rising of the sea 
level — von Droste ticked off a series of 
physical threats to sites on the List. "If 
we believe what most scientists are say- 
ing," he said, "conservation will be in 
for a hard lime." 

To understand not just the physical 
but also the thorny political and finan- 
cial threats the sites on the List face, 
it's necessary to understand how the 
World Heritage Convention works. Indi- 
vidual governments nominate sites with- 
in their borders. They must convince the 
21-member international World Heritage 
Committee (the group that met in Santa 
Fe) that each proposed site meets the 
criteria of "universal value to mankind," 
and pledge to conserve it. 



LIST OF ENDANGERED PLACES 



The following World Heritage Kit::-:-, 
have been inscribed on the- Danger 
List because of threats to or deteriora- 
tion of the characteristics for which 
they were placed on the List. The 
date. signifies the year the- site was 
placed on the List. 

Benin: Royal Palaces- of Abomey; 
osr'aga caused by tornado (1985): 

Bulgaria: Srebama Biosphere Re- 
serve; drainage of wetlands has dam- 
aged the ecosystem and threatened 
bird-, habitats (1992). 

Cambodia: Angkor; the former 
Khmer capital has suffered severe 
war damage and lacks a comprehen- 
sive plan for' rehabilitation (1992). 

Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National 
Park; near the border with Serbia, 
left without a comprehensive manage- 
ment structure and. due to the war, 



a total loss of tourism income (1 992). 

Ecuador: Sangay National Park; 
heavy poaching of wildlife, illegal i-'ve- 
stock grazing, and-a proposed road- 
construction project (1992). 

Guinea 'and Cote d'lvoire: Mount 
Nlmba: iacko; effective manage: ■■en I 
possible uncontrolled mining, and an 
influx of refugees from Liberia ( 1992). 

Hashemiie Kingdom of Jordan: Old 
City o: Jerusalem; concern over the 
archaeological meihotis used to docu- 
ment'ihe Old City and its walls (1982).. 

India: Manas Wildlife Sanctuary; 
damage to park infrastructure fromin- 
vas , includ- 

ing "illegal cultivation" (1992). 

'Mali: Timbuktu;, encroachment of de- 
sert sand (1990). 

Niger: AVv-Tenere National Nature 
ReServe;'fighting between govern- 



ment fences of Nigerand the Tuareg- 
rebels. Six members of 'he park staff 
were held hostage for more than a 
year and a half. Four were released: 
■Mo .were ktHed'(1992). 

Oman: Bahia Fort; general, deteri- 
orating conditions and poor restora- 
tion-practices {1988). ■ 

Peru: Chan Chan. Archaeological 
Zone; darnac/i from excavation work 
and plundering (1986). 

Poland: VV:c:. : czka Salt Mine; deteri- 
oration of salt carvings (1989). 

Yugoslavia: Kotor and its Gulf; earth- 
quake damage (1979). Old City of 
.Dubrovnik; war damage to city walls 
and ofd buildings, especially their 
. roofs. (1991). 

■Zaire: Garamba National Park, 
alarming reduction in population of 
northern white- rhinoceros (1984), 






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The Committee accepts or rejects 
nominations to the List on the basis of 
information supplied by two nonorcr'it or- 
ganizations: the International Council on 
Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in the 
case of cultural or manmade sites, and 
the World Conservation Union (JUCN) 
in the case of natural sites. Although nei- 
ther of these groups is an official organ 
of UNESCO, their role is written into the 
Convention's guidelines. ■ 

Twenty years after its creation, the 
still-growing List consists of 373 sites. 
With an annual budget of around S2 mil- 
lion to implement the Convention, 
some sites have been named to the 
List without even being visited by im- 
partial evaiuators. And, although it's be- 
ing discussed, there is no routine pro- 
gram of monitoring to ensure that aii 
sites are protected from threats of envi- 
ronmental degradation, war, urbaniza- 
tion, tourism, and "development." 

Once on the List, a site or monument 
the Committee believes faces "serious 
and specific dangers" — such as war 
damage, as in Dubrovnik, or in the 
case of Sangay National Park in Ecua- 
dor, "suffering from heavy poaching oi 
wildlife, illegal livestock grazing, and 
encroachment" — may be placed on he- 
World Heritage In Danger List, signify- 
ing the need for dramatic intervention 
or major financial or technical assist- 
ance, As of press time, the Danger List 
consisted ot 15 sites, including six add- 
ed at the December meeting. 

The United States has 18 World Her- 
itage sites, including Grand Canyon 
and Yellowstone national parks, Inde- 
pendence Hall in Philadelphia, and the 
Everglades. They are managed by the 
National Park Service and supported by 
tax dollars as well as admission fees. 
But many sites are in the developing 
world, where there is less tourism and 
a commitment to conservation poses 
wrenching decisions. "When peoole are. 
living hand to mouth" as they do in 
some African game-reserve areas, for 
example, "you can't expect them not to 
poach," says Jim Thorseil, who evalu- 
ates natural sites tor IUCN. 

The Committee spends some of its 
funds on technical cooperation and train- 
ing — restoring earthquake-damaged 
sites in Egypt or training natural-park 
managers, for example — but lacks the 
resources to support large-scale con- 
servation projects. 

During the wGok- cng Santa Fe meet- 
ing, the delegates— some clad in col- 
orful African robes or gauzy saris, oth- 
ers in the more severe attire of interna- 
tional diplomacy — amended marathon 
sessions m a hotel ballroom. UNESCO 
staff hurried up and down :he ais es. d s- 
tributing a blizzard of French- and Eng- 

58 OMNI 



3 documents while the Com- 
mittee discussed reports, guidelines, 
and budgets and made decisions via 
simultaneous translation, which were of- 
fered in French and English. 

In addition io expanding the Danger 
List, the Committee added 21 new 
siies to I he World Her tage List, includ- 
ing :he KasDah of Algiers and Angkor,, 
the ancient Khmer capital of Cambodia. 
The tone of these sessions was primar- 
ily bureaucratic and politely diplomat- 
ic. Yet throughout this twentieth-anni- 
versary meeting, there w; 
undercurrent of urgency — oi 
about the future of the World Heritage 
List. "The Convention is at a cross- 
roads," said Andy Turner, who is in- 
volved with the World Heritage program 
in Australia. "It has got to deal with the 
difficult issues." 

By the end of the week, the Commit- 
icc's c : ss:_;ssions nad H..i™hatec r;.v or - 



•There is no 

way to ensure that sites 

are protected 

from environmental 

degradation, 
war, neglect, tourism 

urbanization, 
and development.? 



ly the physical :.nreats facing ihe mon- 
uments, but also some of the thorny ph'il- 
osoonical, political, and financial issues 
clamoring to be resolved. For example: 

• How can the List be more "bal- 
anced"? Only 88 of the 378 sites are 
natural; 291 are cultural. Europe has a 
heavy concentration of sites, wh ie oth- 
er continents have only a few. The Com- 
mittee has begun to address this by 
encouraging all countries that have 
signed the treaty to inventory sites 
ney be ievs a r o ohgible and want to nom- 
inate and by offering some funding to 
help prepare the, nominations. 

• Should the List even distinguish be- 
tween natural and cultural sites? Too of- 
ten, von Droste says, "culture and na- 
ture are ariific aliy separated. They be- 
long logo:h'D'. f vol. des;roy :he tropics 
forest, you also destroy the culture of 
the people who live there." To address 
this issue, the Committee has been try- 
ing to define a new category of sites 
called "cultural landscapes," which 
would recognize "combined works of na- 
ture and man." 



• How can the World Heritage Centre 
find the resources to offer protection to 
so many sites? Publications sales and 
voluntary contributions by countries or 
individuals add to the budget, but von 
Droste reported that as needs for both 
^mergsney ii.ncs anc regular monitor- 
ing and technical assistance grow, the 
"overall budget at the disposal of the 
Committee is stagnating or even de- 
creasing in real terms," A key reason 
ior the decrease is that many countries 
lag far behind in their mandatory con- 
tributions. Argentina, for example, 
owed more than $65,000 for the years 
1986 through 1993 as of last December, 

Given these limitations, does the 
World Heritage Convention really have 
an impact on the future of the earth's 
most important, often threatened, mon- 
uments, natural habitats, and cultural 
sites? What has it accomplished? 
What challenges does it face, and 
what are its prospects for the future? 

lUCN's Thorseil has compiled a list 
of 22 cases in which World Heritage 
Committee intervention, he says — 
through political pressure, funding, -.och- 
nical assistance, and the like— has 
helped protect or improve threatened 
sites. The success stories include Ec- 
uador's Galapagos is;arcs. where "tour- 
ism-control policies were introduced," 
and Tanzania's Ngorongoro conserva- 
tion area, which received equipment 
needed for park management and was 
removed from the Danger List. 

But these accomplishments seem 
like a drop in the bucket when com- 
pared with the size and needs of the 
entire List and von Droste's gloomy ap- 
praisal of the current state of World Her- 
itage efforts. 

One case in point — -discussed at 
length in Santa Fe because of ihe diffi- 
culty of agreeing on what to do about 
it — is that of Mount Nimba, a natural re- 
serve hat st-acd es trie borders ol Guin- 
ea and Ivory Coast in West Africa. In 
1980, Mount Nimba— which is de- 
scribed n a oo:m abCL.": World Heritage 
as a "beautiful and isolated environ- 
ment," the habitat oi "rare species of 
bats, lichens, and other plants and an- 
imals" — was put on the List 

Twelve years later, at the Santa Fe 
meeting, the Committee placed Mount 
Nimba on the World Heritage In Dan- 
ger List, citing two major threats to its 
integrity: a proposal by the Guinea gov- 
ernment to open an iron mine adjacent 
to the site, and the presence of as many 
as ec.OOO "extremely poor Liberian refu- 
gees" in the region, who, von Droste 
told the Committee, "if not helped, will 
destroy the whole area." 

Despite diplomatic conversations 
and meetings, technical missions to the 



reserve, and extensive debate at San- 
ta Fe and previous meetings, the Com- 
mittee can't even agree on the bound- 
aries of the World Heritage site — and 
whether the proposed mine really is in- 
side ihem. Trie Guinea government's del- 
egate fold the Committee in Santa Fe 
that the proposed mine — which the gov- 
ernment has been developing for 
more than 20 years — "was never pro- 
tected underworld Heritage" because, 
he said, it was outside the site. 

At the same time it put Mount Nimba 
on the Danger List, the Committee de- 
cided to send another mission to study 
the boundaries, determine the impact 
.of the threats to its "universal values," 
and work toward development of a man- 
agement plan to protect the reserve. 
The mission was successful. Partici- 
pants generally agreed on new bound- 
aries for the site. The Mount Nimba 
example liuminates several dilemmas 
that the World Heritage Convention 
confronts in its role as protector of our 
collective future: 

• The Convention has lofty principles, 
but the Committee has limited ability to 
enforce them. Sites are put on the list 
because they're considered to be of 
p/eai value and because individual gov- 
ernments agree to protect them. But, 
other than mobilizing world opinion, 
the Committee can do little to protect a 
site that's threatened by a government 
policy, such as the proposed iron- 
mine development, or by unforeseen 
events, such as the turmoil that led so 
many Liberians to seek refuge in anoth- 
er country. The case of Mount Nimba 
illustrates the circuit po teal and finan- 
cial issues the Convention faces: The 
potential value of the iron mine to the 
country of Guinea is approximately $8 
billion — money that could be spent to 
build an infrastructure and resolve press- 
ing social problems. 

• The Convention has lofty operational 
goals but few resources for implement- 
ing them. Even if contributions were 
paid jo, the budget cannot support thor- 
ough investigator, oi proposed nomina- 
tions or regular monitoring of 378 
sites, let alone keep pace with de- 
mands generated by adding to the 
List. This dilemma also emergec in de- 
bates on whether to add sites to the Dan- 
ger List. As long as the Committee can- 
not provide funds for conservation pro- 
grams or compensate governments for 
what :hey see as an economic loss — 
not mining in the Mount Nimba reserve — 
placement on the Danger List appears 
more like a reprimand than a positive 
call for protection. 

• The structure for implementing the 
Convention is serst ve to oolitical pres- 
sures. The World Heritage Centre is 

60 OMNI 



pl-ys:ca ly lecatec ,r UNESCO headquar- 
ters and receives some funding and oth- 
er support from the agency, The Con- 
vention and the Committee, however, 
are independent of UNESCO. (The di 
rector of the World Heritage Centre re- 
ports to and is responsible to the direc- 
tor general of UNESCO.) The entire Corn- 
iiKtee. which takes action on all nomina- 
tions as well as makes program policy 
decisions, meets only once a year. As 
the Mount Nimba case illustrates, de- 
ve cement and enforcement ::>■ effec:ive 
conservation plans may require a long- 
term perspective as well as technical 
knowledge. But many delegates who at- 
tend the Committee meetings are dip- 
lomats rafic than suostaniive experts — 
with a short-term assignment. 

Despite the structural issues confront- 
ing the Convention and the cont nuing 
problems surrounding Mount Nimba, 
halfway around the world from West Af- 



tWill our 

grandchildren be able 

to visit 

the Taj Mahal or the 

Galapagos 
Islands? The rock churches 

of Ethiopia 
or the lagoon of Venice?? 



hca. Australia offers a different, more 
positive model of the World Heritage sys- 
tem: an example of how environmental 
ists used the irie manorial :reaty to safe- 
guard sites in their own country and to 
Simula:-""- pub c debate and awareness 
of environmental issues. 

"Australians have a history of fight- 
ing in public about those- ".hirgs." says 
Andrew Turner, then-assistant secre- 
tary of the Commonwealth's {federal 
government's) Nature Conservation 
Branch, over breakfast one morning be- 
fore the Committee went into session. 

When the government proposed a log- 
ging oan in i.ne Wet Trooics ot Queens- 
land, a World Heritage site, he recalled, 
"You couldn't walk into a pub without 
someone picking a fight about it, with 
someone else or with you.' 

Australia's constitution gives land- 
management power to the states, not 
to the central government. "In the ear- 
ly 1980s," Turner recounted, "the Tas- 
manian Hydroelectric Commission want- 
ed to build a dam that would have flood- 
ed the valley of the Gordon River, in- 



cluding a lot of abort; rial t:aves with ev- 
idence of early habitation." The pro- 
posed dam was in the Tasmanian Wil- 
derness, a World Heritage area that 
now encompasses about 10 percent of 
the state. 

The Australian High Court set an im- 
portant precedent in the 1980s in two 
decisions when it cited the national 
government's commitment to an inter- 
national treaty— the World Heritage 
Ccnvertion — as grounds for approving 
iheCommonwealth government's pow- 
er to impose the logging ban in Queens- 
land and prohibiting the proposed dam 
project in Tasmania. 

Unlike most countries, the Austral an 
government pub Ishes a '"egular moni- 
toring report on all of its World Heritage 
sites, describing the nature of the prop- 
erty; current issues, such as proposed 
construction or tourism growth: manage- 
ment plans; and the number of people 
who visited the site. 

Most observers and participants in 
the World Heritage process agree that 
an important key to its future effect vc- 
ness is increasing aww-enoss of the con- 
cept and the reasons for protecting nat- 
ural and cultural monuments. 

The United States played a key role 
in creating the Convention and makes 
the largest contributions to the program 
budget. But it took the meeting of the 
Committee in Santa Fe. 20 years after 
the formation of the treaty, to spur the 
National Park Service to commit itseli to 
providing information about World Her- 
itage to the millions of people who visit 
our sites every year, 

In contrast, Spain, which has 15 
sites, ranging from the prehistoric 
caves of Altamira to a twentieth-centu- 
ry Barcelona nouse designed by archi- 
tect Antonio Gaudi, publishes a glossy, 
illustrated pamphlet describing each 
site and the purpose of the World Heri- 
tage Convention. 

It may or may not be coincidental 
that one of World Heritage's most pas- 
sionate advocates is a Spaniard, Fe- 
derico Mayor, who is UNESCO's direc- 
tor general. "Each citizen of the world 
should become a defender of our 
world heritage," he said. "I like to imag- 
ine that the World Heritage message is 
a message of solidarity, of sharing, but 
that must come from the world level to 
the national and municipal levels." 

Mayor said he's encouraged by the 
publicity given to conservation of the 
environment by the Rio conference and 
the possibility of increasing funding 
through the new Global Environmental 
Facility starting in 1994. 

His vision for a vigorous, effective 
World Heritage program a decade 
from now emphasizes education and 



public awareness: "In Paris, at UN- 
ESCO headquarters, we have a clear- 
inghouse for information, with publica- 
tions from all over." In addition to the 
Paris Centre, he hopes to see five or six 
-egiora; center? and national nongovern- 
mental organizations: which would ac- 
tively promote an understanding of the 
Convention and suggest actions to 
nsio DressrvG Wor d I Icilage sites. "In 
children's ;ex:books. World Heritage 
would be a symbol of sharing and gen- 
eral awareness of what is precious in 
one's own and other cultures." 

The person most on the spot now to 
shape the future oi World Heritage is 
Centre director Bernd von Drosle, who 
became director in May of 1992. 
Equipped with his meager budget and 
the energy that comes from knowing 
you're right, von Droste has begun to 
address ;ssues of public awareness 
and funding by negotiating for a major 
television series on World Heritage and 
seeking private-sector funding. 

Von Droste also has a sheaf of 
dreams for the future. Stressing that 
these &'"e his pe'sona! ideas, not offi- 
cial UNESCO or Committee policies, he 
offered the following vision of an effec- 
tive World Heritage program 20 years 
down the road; 

• A World Heritage Fund of S2 billion 
or more, with new mechanisms to fund 
it, such as an energy fax. 

• Formation of an academy of "the 
world's leading personalities — beyond 
any suspicion — to see that Wor.d Heri- 
tage is defercec on the highes: levels." 
■ Communication networks that will 
spread tie Word Herhage message. 

• Proper management of tourism at all 
sites so that they continue to be pro- 
tected at the same time that they con- 
tribute to economic development. 

Will our children or grandchildren be 
able to visit and appreciate the sublime 
architecture of the Taj Mahal? Will they 
see the blue-footed boobies of the Ga- 
ISpagos? The rock churches of Ethio- 
pia? The lagoon of Venice or the mon- 
oliths of Stonehenge? Or will they only 
be able to read about them in books? 

In an ideal world, where we all rec- 
ognize and appreciate natural phenom- 
ena and the achievements of human- 
kind, where resources abound and pro- 
tection of the planet is a shared value, 
our progeny would visit, learn from, and 
enjoy all of these World Heritage sites — 
and more. In the real world, points out 
lUCN's Thorsell, "World Heritage is a 
small player, taking in a small portion 
of the world's orotectec areas and the 
world's problems." But, he emphasizes, 
it's worth doing. "One thing that this 
world needs is more bridges. Wsrfd Her- 
itage helps build bridges." DQ 




LEAVES ARE FALLING ON ANOTHER year 
here in Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of 
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. 

We've been busier than ever this year making 

Jack Daniel's for friends all over the world. And, 

so say our barrelmen, the pace won't 

slacken till Christmas. But no matter 

how much whiskey we take from the 

barrel, we can promise you this: every 

drop is aged and mellowed to the 

oldtime rareness you like. Just as it 

was last year here in Lynchburg. 

And every day of every year 

since 1866. 

SMOOTH SIPPIN' 
TENNESSEE WHISKEY I 




REINVENTING EDUCATION: 

THE CHICAGO EXPERIMENT 



for cl05e to 30 years. barbara 
Bibbs taught fractions to second 
graders the same way she had been 
taught back in teacher-training col- 
lege. this soft-spoken chicago public- 
school teacher would dutifully go 
to the blackboard and 
draw a circle. and then 
with chalk in hand. divide 
it into halves and thirds 
and quarters. ant) herstu- 
dents at medgar evers. an 
almost completely black 
school on the city's far- 
south side, would always 
struggle. "it's a hard con- 
cept, especially in the lower grades." 
says Bibbs "Fractions weren't a lot of 
fun. and the children didn't see any 
reason for wanting to i earn them." 

but that isn't how bibbs teaches any- 
more, after she went through an 




intensive retraining program at 
the new teacher's academy of math 
and Science, her approach changed, 
"i brought in golden delicious 

apples and cut them up into three, 
four, and five pieces." she says. "and 
hen i'd say, 'how many 
1eces are you .holding? 
'wo, okay. so now if we put 
he apple all back togfth- 
r, how many would there 
e? they'd say. 'tl iree/ okay. 
o that was two out of 
hree or two-thirds. it 
/as practical-something 
he children could move 
around and see. i told them. 'if you 
can name your fraction, you can eat 
it.' and boy, d1dthey." 

bibbs didn't stop there. "the apples 
lent themselves for science." she re- 
ports, "because we made them into ap- 



ART! CLE BY 

SHARON McAULIFFE 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY 

PETER LIEPKE 





plesaucs so !he children could see how 
a piece of matter changed shape 
through heat and separation." And again 
the class used the fractions to follow the 
recipe and cook — putting in one-third 
cup of this and one-fourth cup of that, Fi- 
nally, the students wound up reading 
Johnny Appieseed and doing a social- 
studies project to find out where different 
types ot apples are grown. 

"When I was in school," says Bibbs, 
"I don't remember anyone considering 
math fun. But with my children now. if I 
say, 'It's time for mathematics,' they're al- 
most out of their seats, they're so excit- 
ed. It's a real change." 

A Priz-ewinning Dream 
That is just the kind of story that keeps 
Leon Lederman going. At 71 , this white- 
haired Nobel laureate in physics and out- 
spoken advocate for American science 
is conducting the toughest experiment of 
his career; He is spearheading an effort 
to change the way mathematics and sci- 
ence are taught in the country's inner- 
city schools. And Lederman is not be- 
ginning in a small way. The daunting mis- 
sion of his three-year-old Teacher's Acad- 
emy is to tackle what former secretary of 
education William Bennett once de- 
scribed as the "worst school district in 
America" — the entire city of Chicago. 
Over the next seven years, Lederman 
wants to retrain all of the more than 
17,000 teachers responsible for math 
and science from kindergarten on up. 
"There's nothing like this in the rest of the 




A CITY'S BIG 
SHOULDERS: LEON 

LEDERMAN. 

NOBEL LAUREATE 

IN PHYSICS, 

TAKES ON CHICAGO'S 

SCHOOL SYSTEM 

(OPENING PAGE). AT 

THE ACADEMY. 

TEACHERS LEARN TO 

USE SIMPLE 

MATERIALS LIKE 

BEADS TO 

TEACH SCIENCE. 

KIDS LOVE IT. 



country," he says. "We see it as a mod- 
el tor twenty-five other cities." 

The Academy's premise is simple: 
Show teachers how to let children work 
together in small groups rather than pas- 
sively listen, to use simple everyday ma- 
terials like soap bubbles and beads to 
illustrate basic principles, to move from 
textbooks and rote memorization to 
hands-on, activity- based learning. In 
short, to take the drudgery out of math 
and science and relate these subjects to 
children's lives. "There were good proj- 
ects all over the country that had been 
tried in one school here and two 
'schools there," says Lederman. "'Andwe 
said. 'Fine. We know enough already. 
We'll steal those and apply them to all the 
teachers in Chicago who don't know how, 
Let's apply it massively — on a grand 
scale.'" Then taking a characteristic 
poke at himself, Lederman adds, 
"That's the megalomania of a physicist 
talking, If we can build a superconduct- 
ing accelerator, we can do anything. Chi- 
cago public schools? Piece of cake." 

The ambit ols project oegan with a sim- 
ple phone call back in 1989. At that 
time, Lederman was director ot Fermilab,- 
the national laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, 
where some of the most advanced re- 
search in particle physics is done. Fer- 
milab is run by the Department of Energy, 
and on this day, Lederman's boss — 
James Watkins, then secretary of ener- 
gy — was on the line, in recent years, 
report after report had confirmed the 
country's crisis in science and math 

CCN"INUEjONPAGE92 



PERFORMANCE-BASED TESTS 



Imagine that you live on a fiat 
world. The only way to move is 
through the coordinate plane. 
You are on a mission to capture 
a dragon that is threatening your vil- 
lage. If you can find out .exactly 
where the dragon is, you will be able 
to capture it. Other people in your vil- 
lage have already found out that the 
dragon doesn't lie farther north- or 
east than (8,6). Other people who 
have seen the dragon have figured 
out that it is four units long and 1.5 
units wide. Make up a short story 
that tells how you looked for the drag- 
on by exploring the coordinate 
plane. Tell where you think the drag- 
on was found." 

This problem, developed by a 
team of teachers for the California 
Department of Education, of course, 
has no single co-oct approach or an- 
swer. It's the kind of problem Ameri- 
can students are increasingly facing 
on examinations. Realizing that true/ 
false, multiple-choice, and fill-in-the- 
blank questions often measure stu- 
dents' test-taking skills more accu- 
rately than their ability to use knowl- 
edge in the real world, American 
educators are beginning to radically 
change the testing methods in 
schools across the United States. 

"If you want to see if someone can 
ride a bike, you don't give him a mul- 
tiple-choice test. You see if he can- do 
it," says Dale Carlson, director of the 
California Department of Education's 
California Learning Assessment Sys- 
tem (CLAS), which conducts standard- 
ized testing in the state's elementary 
and secondary schools. 

Dubbed "performance- based as- 
sessment," the new kind of testing is 
linked to curriculum reforms that pro- 
mote hands-on or experiential learn- 
ing activities. Such reforms aim to de- 
velop kids' high-order thinking and rea- 
soning skills, not simply their ability to 
memorize or calculate. Performance- 
based testing often consists of a prob- 
lem to solve or a concrete task to com- 
plete. "It's a direct look'at the kind of 
things you want kids to know," says 
Lauren Resnick, a professor of psy- 



chology at the Learning Research 
and Development Center at the Uni- 
versity of Pittsburgh, ■ 

For example, to. test their science, 
knowledge, California fifth graders 
were asked in the spring of 19.92 to 
decide whether a mound of trash 
could go to a landfill. Over three 
days, they had to sort the trash, 
build an electromagnet to remove any 
metals, and carry out chemical tests 
on unknown substances. Finally, 
ihey wrote Gcver nc Pete Wilson, sum- 
marizing their findings and suggest- 
ing ways to alleviate California's 
landfill problems. Scorers looked for 
the right answer but also considered 
a student's investigative method, 
logic, and conclusions, The exams 
were graded on a scale of 1 to 4, 
with 4 the top score. 



THE REFORMS 
AIM TO DEVELOP KIDS' 

THINKING AND 
REASONING SKILLS, NOT 

SIMPLY THEIR 
ABILITY TO MLMORIZE. 



Because most students also need 
to learn how to work in groups and 
communicate knowledge with other 
people, some performance-based as- 
sessments call for students to partic- 
ipate in group work and discussions 
before writing an essay or conduct- 
ing an experiment individually and writ- 
ing up its results. 

While educators aren't discarding 
multiple-choice tests completely, 
they're decreasing their use. Some- 
times they use "enhanced" multiple- 
choice questions, which in math 
could involve several concepts and 
more than one strategy and take two 
to three- minutes to answer. "We're 
weaning ourselves to use multiple- 
choice questions, but we're also try- 
ing to find out how to use them 
best," says Carlson. At the same 



(■me. educators are movingto replace 
some testing altogether with "assess- 
ment portfolios" — collections of work 
chosen to reflect what the student has 
learned .during the year. 

Performance-based assessment is 
in various stages of discussion and 
implementation in nearly every state, 
says Resnick, who also directs the 
New Standards Project, a partnership 
of 19 states and several school dis- 
tricts working ;o establish shared per- 
formance-based assessments and 
standards for student achievement. 

California is among the leaders: 
State egs e.ion rnsnda:es that by the 
1997-1998 school year, ail fourth, 
fifth, eighth, and tenth graders will 
take performance-based exams in 
reading, writing," math, history, social 
science, and science. 

Advocates of performance-based 
testing believe that new statewide 
tests will stimulate teachers to create 
similar measures for classroom use 
throughout the year. Many school 
districts in the state of California, for 
example, have already bought sci- 
ence-experiment kits, although the 
tests that accompany the kits aren't 
yet required. 

Scoring the new performance- 
based tests is expensive, since teach- 
ers must be paid to read them. The 
mandated California tests will cost 
$50 per student, compared to $5 per 
student for machine-scored exams. 
But Carlson defends the new tests as 
highly cost effective, since they give 
teachers a far more accurate notion 
of kids' unde'slancing insn do the 
strictly short-answer tests. 

Teachers who participate in scor- 
ing the exams discuss the quality of 
students' responses and how to im- 
prove kids' performances, Resnick 
points out. Advocates say this proc- 
ess will spur teachers to lecture stu- 
dents less and start focusing more on 
what kids are learning. Performance- 
based testing "has a leveraging and 
stimulating effect on changing what 
goes on in schools," says Carlson. 
"It's going to help turn the whole sys- 
tem around."-— Kathy Seal 



If you dont think jowc 

tastes change, 
h 



i think back to that 
haircut senior year 




Dewark 




A collection of 
short fiction by 
Michaela Roessner, 
Connie Willis, 
and John Kessel 





AN INCOMPLETE 
REPRESENTATION 
OF REALITY 



WHO OBSERVES SATS FOR THE BRIEFEST LENGTH OF TIME KNOWS THAT TO ENTICE fi 
CAT INTO A BOX, ONE HAS ONLY TO LEAVE IT INVITINGLY OPEN. 



the extra olfactory sense to track her surroundings 
in the airtight, light-tight box, where even her 
enormous, luminously golden eyes cannot see. But 
there are many ways of "seeing." There are many 
ways of observing. 

Eye-blinded inside the box, Mieze still knows 
her surroundings well. She's been here before. 
She's endured many sessions in this container. As 
soon as her human pet, Felicie, leaves for 
school, Felicie's father, the great Herr Professor 
Erwln S., is prone to pop Mieze in the box. 

With the sensitive organs in her oral tissues 
Mieze breathes in the smell of the sweet honey 
heavy-leaded walls of her prison, the acid metal 
taste and tick of the Geiger counter, the slick glass- 
ine odor of the bottle containing and masking, for 
now, the cyanide gas, and the wood and steel of 
the hammer poised to crash down on the cyanide 
bottle. 

But even more than these she tastes/smells/ 
observes/fcnows the pulse of electrons and trem- 
bling of nuclei in the little case that contains the 
radioactive isotope. This smaller box is surrounded 
by a cage to prevent her from dislodging it in the 
" fit of fear or fury that Herr Erwin seems to expect 
. of her. Does Herr Erwin S. think she hasn't noticed 
that he hasn't similarly secured the bottle of cy- 
anide? 

Well, that's the crux of the matter, isn't it? Not 
the great scientific experiment, the one Herr Er- 
win S.'s friend, the renowned Doktor Einstein, 
calls the "prettiest way" to show that the wave repre- 
sentation of matter is an incomplete representation 
of reality. No, the true reality, the real representa- 
tion ot reality, is that her human pet (Felicie)'s fa- 
ther (Erwin) detests cats. 

So if Mieze in the process of this to-be famous 
experiment should inadvertently bump into the cy- 
anide instead of waiting for the statistical judgment 
of the nuclei, what will Herr Erwin S. say? He will 
say, "I am a Swiss scientist. I am not responsible 
for the nonprecision of felines." 

Yet for all the innocence she knows he would 



profess, she notices how gingerly he lifts the lid 
at the end of each experiment, the gloves he 
dons, the air-filter mask he wears over nose and 
mouth. 

In spite of her anger, Mieze is drawn to and fas- 
cinated by the cage around the box of radioac- 
tive matter. It reminds her of the cage that secures 
Felicie's brother's white mice and the wire prison 
that confines Felicie's mother's canary. Inside 
this cell, too, the atomic particles tremble, hop and 
spin, watching her watching them. Just like the 
mice and the bird. Sometimes (she cannot help 
herself) she feels one paw curling out toward the 
caged box; her hindquarters involuntarily begin 
their rhythmic prepounce twitch. 

At these moments she sympathizes briefly with 
Herr Erwin S. Is this not the same twitch she has 
observed in him as he sets up his experiments? 
When he pounces upon and captures the elusive, 
fluttering bits of knowledge, she has seen the 
sharp spark of thrill of a successful hunt. She be- 
lieves he may even experience a brief, atavistic 
sensation as of soft fur or feathers against the in- 
side of his mouth, a rush of the sweet warmth of 
blood. 

But after a while of such conjecture Mieze 
grows bored and tired and wishes she could 
sleep. Then she again becomes irritated with 
Herr Erwin S. She is not stupid. If she dozes, if 
she suspends her observations, she could die. 

At some point in the time she spends in here, 
Herr Erwin S., Herr E. Schrodinger believes that 
there is a fifty-percent chance (in his mind at 
least) that one of the nuclei in the case will decay 
and trigger the Geiger counter, causing the ham- 
mer to descend on the bottle containing the cya- 
nide. Herr Schrodinger lives for a brief moment's 
delusion of immortality. He hypothesizes that as 
long as he does not open the box she is neither 
dead nor alive. Or she is both. During that inde- 
terminate moment he believes himself to be her 
deity— that it is his paltry act of lifting the lid that 
determines her survival. 



Yet Mieze has noticed rial he has at 
times left her in the box far longer than 
necessary io make this determination, 
At first she believed that he lost track 
of the time, in his addictive immersion 
into godhood, Later she accepted the 
possibility that his hatred of cats might 
be stronge- than nis egomania. If he "for- 
got" and left her in the box long 
enough, she would suffocate. Then he 
would say, "I am a Swiss physicist. 
What would I know of feline lung capac- 
ity and oxygen requirements?" 

So the moment he places her in the 
enclosure she shallows her breathing, 
shuns the desire to sleep. 

Poor Herr Erwin S-, Mieze thinks. He 
congratulates himself on his scientific 
prowess, yet he lacks the most rudimen- 
tary observatiora sk is. ~ake, as an ex- 
ample, how he initiates this experiment 
Anyone who observes cats for the brief- 
est length of time knows that to entice 
a cat into a box, one has only to leave 
it invitingly open, The cat's own scien- 
iilio Isrvor (mislabeled by men as mere 
curiosity) will lead it unerringly to inves- 
tigate. Yei time and time again Herr Er- 
win S. — ignorant, sadistic, and complete- 
ly untalented — has picked her up and 
jammed her into this container. Always 
with the same results. It is her only sat- 
isfaction, she thinks as she licks his 
blood from between her claws. 

No, Herr Erwin S., Herr Protessor, 
sees and understands nothing. Even 
the mice and canary know more than 
he. They would scrutinize the subatom- 
ic particles studying them and be able 
to control the atomic assassins with 
their own watching. Creatures, being 
more intelligent than men, know thai all 
tne games of life and death, exisience 
and nonexistence, are determined by 
oneupmanship in observation. The cat 
sits and waits at a mousehole. The 
mouse sits and waits on the other side. 
Each by its watching determines the oth- 
er's reality. Poor Herr E, Schrodinger 
does not understand how much his own 
existence is determined by the watch- 
ful vigilance of cats, of small birds and 
rodents, even of atomic particles. Poor 
Herr Erwin, who neither sees nor tastes/ 
sme l-=/oi.jSG r ves tne imprisoning box of 
his own reality. 

Mieze yawns. Stalemating nuclei is 
too easy. She's had plenty of time, too 
much time, to think of all the ramifica- 
tions of her situation. 

Oh, yes, yes, she knows that by im- 
posing her will to live that in a parallel 
reality another Mjeze (she assumes a 
retarded version of herself) is dying. But 
Mieze is pragmatic. She is only con- 
cerned with her consciousness contin- 
uing along this particular life line. 

She's imagined so many other pos- 



sici : ties. In s none- ur-ivorsc herr Erw.n 
S.'s daughter is not called Felicie and 
does not like cats. There Mieze chose 
to be mistress to a dairyman's family. 
She lives on cream by a warm hearth. 
In other continuums Herr S.: 

Has only sons, no daughters, and kid- 
naps his feline victims from alleys. 

Is married, but has -no children. 

Is not married, has no children, 

Only proposes the experiment as an 
idea, leaving others to follow it through 
as they will, But he doesn't fool the 
cats in that reality. After all, if he truly 
meant no malice, why didn't he suggest 
another animal for the experiment; say, 
for example, a dog? 

Mieze conjectures other, earlier real- 
ities she knows must exist. A continu- 
um where before he receives his doc- 
torate in 1910 Herr Schrodinger is 
drummed out of college for a sexual 
scandal involving a middle-aged 



4She has 
endured session after 

- session in 

the box, thinking with a 

softened 

heart of Felicie, who 

slips her 

morsels of chicken livers, 9 



whore, a baron's wife. and daughter, 
and great amounts of cherry strudel. 
Whole universes where at the age of 
eight young master Schrodinger trips 
over a black cat while on his way to 
school and is run over by a passing car- 
riage, his skull crushed! 

But still, later would not be too late. 
A universe where Herr Professor Erwin 
Sclroc'ipger mysteriously disappears af- 
ter a hard day of experimenting in his 
lab. His dear little daughter Felicie 
comes by to see him after her lessons, 
discovers him gone and in the nick of 
time rescues her beloved golden-eyed 
silver tabby, f/ieze mgers over the po- 
tential of this universe. Yes. it will do 
nicely, After all, she has held back 
from meddling up until now. She has en- 
dured session after session in the box, 
thinking with a softened heart of Felicie, 
who s ips her morsels of chicken ivers. 
who knows how to sleep in just the 
righl alignment of curves for ideal cat 
nestling. Mieze knows the anguish Fe- 
licie would suffer if anything should hap- 
pen to her father, who she believes to 



be perfect. Yet Herr S. cares not a whit 
for ihe grief that Mieze's death would 
cause Felicie. How heartbroken Felicie 
would be to know what a monster her 
father truly is. Far better to save the 
child from that trauma. 

Mieze stretches in the confines of the 
box. It is decided, then. She cannot be 
like the mice and the canary, even if 
she wished it, She is an observer ex- 
traordinaire; a hunter far superior to 
Herr S. Which means she has been pa- 
tient. But a cat can be patient too long. 
A deep, voluptuous purr fills Mieze's 
throat, The moment has come. It is 
time to open the box on Professor Herr 
Erwin Schrodinger. 

— By Micnaela Rcessner 

A NEW THEORY EXPLAINING THE UN- 
PREDICTABILITY OF FORECASTING 
THE WEATHER 

Okay, so I'm cruising around, looking 
for chicks, and it starts to rain, So I 
hang a left in under a lilac bush to get 
out of it. I hope some chick's have had 
the same idea/since they're always wor- 
ried about their looks and getting wet 
and stuff, but the only thing under the 
bush is this centipede. 

He gives me a dirty look and says, 
"This is all your fault." 

I don't usually hang out with pedes- 
trians, but I figure maybe he's heard 
something about what happened 
when me and Buzz were draggin' this 
morning in the meadow, so I say, real 
casual, "Huh?" 

"The rain," the centipede says. "You 
caused it." 

"You're all wet," I say, but does he 
laugh? No. pedestrians have no sense 
of humor. He says, "It's your fault that 
it's raining." 

"Who says, creep?" 

"Edward Lorenz says." 

"I never even met the guy," I say. "It 
musta been somebody else." 

"Then why did he call it the Butterfly 

Effect?" 

I don'i have any idea what he's talk- 
ing about, and anyway, it's stopped rain- 
ing, and I see this cute chick I know, I 
forget her name. She is fluttering 
around, wiggling her rear in that way 
chicks have that makes you crazy, so 
I catch up with her and say, "Hiya, ba- 
by. Wanna go for a spin?" 

She gives me a look like 1 am some 
kind of bug and flies off without saying 
anything. I figure she musta heard 
abou: me and Darlene, so I take off af- 
ter her, but as I fly past the roses I see 
this really coo ch : ck. She is sitting on 
this big pink rose like she is wailing for 
— e : wage inc. her w ngs al me, so I put 
on the brakes and pull up next to her. 



"Hiya, dreamboat," I say, turning on 
the old pheromones. "Wanna park for _ 
awhile?" 

"I didn't appreciate the rain," she 
says, real stuck-up. "It almost ruined my 
outfit," and flies off. 

Man, 1 am really confused now be- 
cause I never bomb with chicks, and 
here I've struck out twice. "What's go- 
ing on around here?" I say. 

"Chaos theory," somebody says, and 
I see it's a spider, crawling around on 
the rose leaves. I don't usually hang out 
with the fuzz because they are always 
trying to put the cuffs on you, but if any- 
body knows what's going on, they do. 
So I say, "What did she mean by that 
crack about the rain? I didn't have noth- 
ing to do with it." 

"That's what you think," the spider 
says. "Chaos theory says you did. It's 
a new theory that was formulated to ex- 
plain the unpredictability of forecasting 
the weather. It explains chaotic systems 
like atmospheric air flow which are sen- 
sitive to fluctuations too small to be meas- 
ured." 

The whole time he is saying, this, he 
is crawling up the rose I am on, so I 
tool on over to another one before I ask 
him what that has to do with me. 

"Tiny variations in a chaotic system 
become magnified into large-scale 



cnangcs. Your fluttering your wings 
sets air patterns in motion that can 
cause a typhoon in China. Or a 
drought in California. Or an afternoon 
shower, which I might add," he says, 
"destroyed one of my best webs." 

"No way, man. I wasn't anywhere 
near the place," I say. "How come 
you're trying to pin this on me? How 
about moths? Their wings are bigger 
than mine. How about birds? Or cats. 
I've known cats that could drop the Fahr- 
enheit fifty degrees just by looking at 
you." 

"If it were their fault, it wouldn't be 
called the Butterfly Effect," the spider 
says. 

"Who came up with this theory any- 
way?" I say. 

"Humans," the spider says, 

I mighta known. Humans are threat at 
cornin' up with stuff. Like the butterfly 
net. And Raid. 

"Hold still." the spider says. "You 
don't want to cause a heat wave in 
Moscow." he says, and I see that the 
whole time we have been shooting the 
breeze, he has been rigging a web be- 
tween his rose and the one I'm on, so 
I don't wait around to see what he's up 
to. I fly off, and then I get to thinking 
about what 1 am probably doing to Cal- 
ifornia, and I land on a tiger lily and sit 



there, thinking about why they've laid 
this rap on me. I mean, who are they 
trying to kid? One little flap of my 
wings causes a typhoon but thirty mil- 
lion Toyotas doesn't do anything? 

And if they're looking for something 
to pin the weather on, what about all 
these theories humans keep coming up 
with to explain stuff? They've got a new 
one every day — cold fusion and asbes- 
tos removal and punctuated equilibri- 
um—and they're always standing 
around yapping about them. It's 
enough hot air to cause fifty typhoons, 

I am thinking nobody who has ever 
heard humans shoot the breeze about 
supply-side economics is going to be- 
lieve this chaos stuff, but just then this 
cute chick zooms by like she doesn't 
even know I'm alive, and it's obvious 
she "h nks it's my fault, which I don't get 
because if it's a butterfly effect, she's 
causing typhoons, too. But chicks are 
a lot like humans— everything is always 
somebody else's fault. 

So I am silting there, thinking this cha- 
os theory is about as good an idea as 
the" butterfly net, when up comes 
Buzz. "Hey, wanna drag?" he says. 

I don't answer him. 

"Wanna go pick up chicks?" he 
says, looking at the chick who flew by 




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THATS THE EDGE. 



injTERvieuu 





Aung the banks 
of the river Neck- 
ar, on a glori- 
ous day in Heidelberg, 
Bert Sakmann bicycles up 
to a red brick laboratory in 
this university town of ba- 
roque buildings. Bounding 
upstairs, he carries a paper 



bag holding an apple and 
a banana — his lunch. Ex- 
cept for a break at the neigh- 
boring cafe, Sakmann will 
spend the day explaining 
to me how muscle and 
brain cells communicate 
with each other, what phys- 
ically happens when a 



brain thinks a thought. 

A living body is a vast net- 
work of chemical and elec- 
trical signals coursing 
through neurons out from 
the central nervous system 
to muscle cells and back. 
Cells talk to each other in 
part by means of ions, 



ONE OF A NOBEL 
DUO WHO 
REVOLUTIONIZED 
THE STUDY 
OF CELLULAR 
COMMUNICATION 

PHOTOGRAPHS 
BY HENNER PREFI 





JOB: 


DISCOVERT: 


of five barrel staves that tilt 




Director of the cell 


Describing the function of 


in to close the channel. 


' 


physiology department 


single ion channels in 


When the transmitter binds 




of the Max Planck Institute 


a cell, using their patch- 


to the receptor, the 


'■ 


for Medical Research 


clamp technique 


staves until and the -channel 


in Heidelberg 




opens. At least this 


iH 




WHAT ION CHANNELS 


is one theory. The actual 


QUOTE: 


LOOK LIKE: 


mechanism remains 


"1 had the experiment 


"A funnel and a gate. The 


a mystery." 




under complete control." 


narrow part lets pass 








just one ion at a time. When 


ON PATENTS: 


K . '''///^itflH^S; 


RECENTLY WON: 


a transmitter is around, 


"It's too much trouble. 






1991 Nobel Prize for 


the channel is rearranged to 


They're a distraction. I'm not 




l^p 


physiology and 


create a hole, or gate. 


going to make money 






medicine, with partner 


You could envisage the 


out of science; it's far too 






Erwin Neher 


inner wall as made up 


interesting for that." 



charged particles such as 
sodium, potassium, and 
chlorine that enter and exit 
through gates and chan- 
nels like airplanes stacked 
up on a busy day at 
O'Hare, Today's knowl- 
edge of channels, synaptic 
transmission, receptors, in- 
tracellular signaling, and oth- 
er mechanisms by which 
nerves and muscles commu- 
nicate is due in good part 
to the work of Sakmann. No 
wonder he and I have so 
much to talk about. 

Sakmann, 52, and his 
longtime colleague Erwin 
Neher shared the 1991 No- 
bel Prize for physiology 
and medicine. The award 
recognized a fabulous 
month of research a dec- 
ade earlier when the two sci- 
entists invented the patch- 
clamp technique for study- 
ing ion channels in cells' 
membranes. By a wonder- 
ful mix of luck and talent, 
they perfected a host of 
techniques for tuning into 
cellular signals. Their ear 
for listening into the conver- 
sations of neurons and oth- 
er cells was a glass pi- 
pette, which can be as 
small as 1/25,000 the diam- 
eter of a human hair. It en- 
abled them to spear func- 
tioning cells without inter- 
fering with their vital proc- 
ess of emitting sign; 



Once speared, cells could 
be bathed in ions and ma- 
nipulated in many of the 
ways the body itself uses 
for intracellular signaling. 
Virtually overnight, these 
methods became standard 
practice for cell physiolo- 
gists and brain researchers 
everywhere. 

More recently, Sakmann 
collaborated on recombi- 
nant DNA experiments iso- 
lating proteins that distin- 
guish different kinds of chan- 
nels. He is working on new 
treatments for epilepsy, di- 
abetes, and other diseases 
caused by malfunctioning 
channels. And lately, he 
has been studying how the 
cellular architecture of neu- 
rons contributes to such 
higher brain functions as 
learning and reasoning. 

Among this raft of accom- 
plishments, the courtly 
Sakmann remains unflappa- 
ble and unassuming. Nev- 
er using the first-person pro- 
noun in his published writ- 
ing, he ascribes much of 
his seminal work to 
chance. On getting the 
call from Stockholm, his 
first thought was, "Oh, 
what a lot of luckl" 

— Thomas Bass 
Editor's note: Thomas 
Bass's collection of inter- 
views from Omni, titled Re- 
inventing the Future, will be 



published by Addison Wes- 
ley in December 1993. 

Omni: Before we leave 
your lab, do you need to in- 
struct your troops? 
Sakmann: No. We do small- 
scale science here, do our 
experiments by hand. 
There are no simple reci- 
pes like the protocols in mo- 
lecular biology. Membrane 
biophysics is still a science 
where experimental skill is 
very important. 
Omni: When did you know 
you wanted to become a 
scientist? 

Sakmann: The only subject 
that interested me in 
school was physics, I was 
fascinated by biological cy- 
bernetics, which took prin- 
ciples developed during 
the war by American math- 
ematician Norbert Wiener 
for how to hit a moving tar- 
get with a gun, for exam- 

WE RECORD 
ELECTRICAL SIGNALS 
AND INTERPRET 
THEM, BUT THERE'S 
NO STRAIGHT- 
FORWARD INTERPRE- 
TATION OF AN 
ELECTRICAL SIGNAL. 
LIKE ARTISTS, 
WE DRAW PICTURES 
OF WHAT'S 
GOING ON IN THE 
SYNAPSE. 



pie, and applied them to 
understanding the function 
of animals. By analyzing 
the flight pattern of a bee- 
tle, you could predict its 
movements and figure out 
underlying principles of 
how its brain worked with- 
out knowing any anatomy. 
The brain was conceived 
as a bundle of sensors feed- 
ing into integrators with 
differentiated outputs. Our 
ultimate hope was to build 
a machine that would ex- 
plain how the body works. 
Making machines and 
explaining animal behavior 
seemed the same thing. 
Now we know it's a lot 
more complicated, but in 
Germany, this was the pre- 
vailing view. When I was a 
boy, I loved to construct air- 
planes and ships operated 
by remote control. It was as- 
sumed I'd become an en- 
gineer, but then I got inter- 
ested in biology. 
Omni: Is it possible to re- 
duce human nature to a 
cybernetic model? 
Sakmann: Some aspects 
of it, yes. When you first 
start out, you think you can 
explain everything, even 
higher brain function. This 
enthusiasm is due to igno- 
rance. As you gain insight, 
your goals become more 
modest. Now I'd be very 
happy to figure out how a 




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synapse in the central nervous system 
(CMS) works. 

Omni: What models did you use to de- 
scribe how humans learn? 
Sakmann: Psychology held no interest 
for me; it had no experimental tools. I 
decided to study higher brain function — 
what in German is called Vernunft, ra- 
tionality or reason — by focusing on pat- 
tern recognition. This requires funclion- 
a! brains, and you can perform experi- 
ments. How does a cat recognize a 
mouse? Technology is still stru:.igl nc 
with what I worked on 25 years ago: to 
construct a machine capable of recog- 
nizing invariants, patterns, in something 
like writing. We fried to find the engi- 
neering principles underlying how the 
brain does it. 

Omni: Are there any other scientists in 
your family? 

Sakmann: Ivlygreat grandfather direct- 
ed a psychiatric hospital, and both my 
grandfathers were doctors. But my fa- 
ther was a theater director in Stuttgart. 
He lived in a completely different 
world. I like theater, particularly play- 
wrights like Brecht, and was intrigued 
by his theory about educating people 
through theater. I went to the Iheater a 
lot but was never tempted to follow in 
my father's footsteps. 
Omni: Why did you decide lo go to med- 
ical school? 

Sakmann: If something went wrong 
with science, I thought I'd fall back on 
medicine, but my heart wasn't in it. Half- 
way through my medical studies, I 
thought, "It's time to get involved!" So 
I picked up the journal Biological Cy- 
bernetics and wrote to almost 
everyone on the editorial board. I got 
positive responses from several, includ- 
ing Bernard Creutzfeld in Munich, who 
needed someone to finish a Ph.D. the- 
sis in cybernetics. The truth is, I'd met 
a girl who lived in Munich — she later be- 
came my wife — and I thought, "Maybe 
I can combine these two things." 

Creutzfeld was working on pattern 
recogniiion in the visual system and col- 
laborating with a group of engineers 
from the technical high school. While 
we studied the visual system of the cat, 
the engineers tried to build an appara- 
tus to recognize .patterns. My task was 
to find how the synapses of those spe- 
cial cells that respond to contours are 
organized. There are established tech- 
niques for measuring these things. You 
drill a hole in the anesthetized animal's 
skull, and while it looks at a screen, a 
microelectrode monitors the electrical 
activity in its cells, This activity is usu- 
ally transformed into an acoustic signal, 
a "bzzzz, bzzzz" sound you hear when- 
ever you go into a lab doing this type 
of work. This bzzzz tells you that you've 



found a receptive field. 
Omni: These techniques seem crude 
compared to your later research. 
Sakmann: Yes, but I'm trying to tell you 
how your ambition becomes less and 
less. It's guided by what is technically 
feasible. You want to have things un- 
der control, It was only when I found a 
system with repeatable results that I 
was happy. 

Omni: For many years, you stopped in- 
vestigating the brain. Why? 
Sakmann: I decided higher brain func- 
tions were too difficult for me, but I still 
wanted to work on the basic mecha- 
nism of how information is transmitted. 
I look a summer course in Italy, and the 
introductory lecture was given by Ber- 
nard Katz [Nobel laureate, who demon- 
strated that synaptic vesicles, little 
sacs containing transmitter, release 
their chemicals in packets, which he 
called "quanta"]. It made me decide 
that no longer would I ask questions 
about how brains function. I'd just try 
to understand synaptic junctions. 

The neuromuscular junction, the syn- 
apse between nerve and muscle, is the 
model synapse. Most of our concepts 
abcu: synaptic :ransmission, release of 
Ugnsmltter, and the opening of chan- 
nels have been developed there. The 
only thing the neuromuscular junction 
doesn't do is learn, although our ideas 
about that might change. 
Omni: How does this work? 
Sakmann: When you decide to move 
your thumb, an excitation in your mo- 
tor cortex travels down your spinal 
cord to a motor neuron.. From the mo- 
tor neuron, it travels down your arm and 
is finally Iransmitted to the muscle. In a 
neuromuscular junction, the neuron and 
muscle come close to each other, less 
than a micron apart, But electrical ex- 
citation can't jump across the cleft. In- 
stead, the signal is transmitted by a 
chemical substance. A small hole, a 
channel, is created in the cell wall 
through which ions, charged particles, 
move, This movement is registered as 
a change in synaptic potential— as a 
message to move your thumb. 
Omni: What are potentials — membrane, 
synaptic, action, and so on? 
Sakmann: Membrane potentials are the 
means by which cells communicate. 
They result from the flow of ions from 
inside to outside the cell, or vice ver- 
sa. A flux of potassium across a cell 
membrane — potassium being posi've- 
ly charged — generates a membrane po- 
tential of about a tenth of a volt. All 
nerve, muscle, and probably all other 
cells in your body generate these ac- 
tion potentials by passing ions through 
the cell wall. This difference between in- 
side and outside of the cell is the re- 



quirement for signaling in the CNS. 
Omni: Action potentials? 
Sakmann: The electrical signal that trav- ' 
els along nerves. It's made by the 
change in membrane potential — 
change is polarization. A cell has a "rest- 
ing potential." The action potential is a 
brief reversal of this state, as the cell 
goes from -90 to +40 millivolts. The sig- 
nal propagates as it travels through sodi- 
um channels and depolarizes adjacent 
regions. The frequency of action poten- 
tials encodes the information a cell 
wants to transmit to another ceil. They 
are long-distance communicators. 

Synaptic potentials are local and 
don't travel along a nerve. But when 
enough are added together, they 
reach a threshold, and an action poten- 
tial will be generated. Again, if you 
want to move your foot, your brain 
makes a decision, which is the conse- 
quence of many synaptic activations c- 
motor neurons. These cells generate ac- 
tion potentials that travel along the 
nerve. From the moment you decide un- 
til your toe wiggles takes less than a sec- 
ond, and it's all done electrically. Syn- 
aptic potentials are used to combine in- 
formation from different brain areas. 
Omni: A one-second response time 
seems a bit slow, 

Sakmann: Carl Lewis could do it a lot 
quicker, in a tenth of a second or less, ■ 
although even he has been slowing 
down lately. Alternatives for transferring 
information between, say, the blood sys- 
tem, which uses hormone signals, or 
the lymph system, take minutes instead 
of seconds. 

Omni: Why do we convert electrical sig- 
nals into chemical ones? 
Sakmann: I don't know, but it does 
make it easier to generate different 
configurations of these elements. A neu- 
ron has many inputs, and one way to 
tune them may be to create more or few- 
er synapses. Electrical transmission 
lacks this kind of flexibility. Chemical 
transmission is flexible in its wiring and 
can change quickly, It's good at inte- 
grating multiple synaptic signals. 
Omni: To learn something, do I build up 
neurons and synapses? 
Sakmann: This is a lively discussion. Eve- 
ry possible mechanism has been 
evoked: more synapses, more transmit- 
ters, more receptors, greater sensitivi- 
ty, more channels or changes in their 
structure. Examples support every the- 
ory. Indeed, it's funny how the same 
groups claim alternatively that they 
have "proof" for one mechanism, then 
another, then both. Personally, I don't 
care if there is a learning mechanfefn. 
There are many, and that's the excite- 
ment — but the field's become a bit over- 
heated, a bit like Disneyland. 



Omni: What was it like working with 
Katz in England? 

Sakmann: Katz and Ricardo Miledi had 
just discovered what they called mem- 
brane noise. From this they derived an 
estimate of the elementary current 
event — the amount of current that 
flows through a channel when it's go- 
ing from a closed to open state or vice 
versa. At the same time, a Taiwanese 
scientist gave ivliledi a snake toxin that 
specifically affects acetylcholine recep- 
tors. He labeled the toxin radioactively 
and counted the number of receptors 
to which it bound. Suddenly, the postsyn- 
aptic membrane became translucent. 
For the first time, we could calculate the 
numbers of receptors involved in syn- 
aptic transmission and how many ace- 
tylcholine molecules you need to acti- 
vate a quantal current. 

In Katz's lab in just a few years — 
between 1970 and 1973 — the biochem- 
istry and physiology of the synapse be- 
came molecular. It was terribly exciting 
to sit in on everyday discussions. It be- 
came crystal clear what I wanted to do: 
look at the molecular properties of syn- 
aptic transmission and at ion channels 
in particular. You could count, measure, 
then interpret them. 
Omni: How did y'ou meet Erwin Neher? 
Sakmann: Before going to work in 
Katz's lab, I thought I should learn some- 
thing about voltage clamping, the' way 
to record channel currents. I spent six 
months in the same lab as Erwin at one 
of the Max Planck Institutes. Erwin was 
using pipettes to record from different 
parts of neurons, investigating wheth- 
er these different parts had different 
types of channels. Anyway, he and I got 
along quite well. He was recording cur- 
rents from snail neurons, which, being 
huge — up to a millimeter in diameter — 
are very easy to penetrate. Since I'd 
had my frustrating experience with the 
central nervous system, it was nice to 
do some easy experiments with intra- 
cellular electrodes. From Erwin I 
learned how to record voltages and cur- 
rents from these cells. Erwin and I are 
very sympathetic. Because he's also a 
Swabian, from southern Germany, we 
speak a similar dialect; we're from the 
same tribe. I was lucky to meet him be- 
cause he taught me electronics. We 
had a good Une going down io the elec- 
tronics workshop and building an am- 
plifier. He'd just written a little book for 
medical students about using electron- 
ics for electrophysiology. 

Using a vo lage-clamp ampiiiicr was 
for me a new way of doing research. Pre- 
viously, I'd spent hours preparing an an- 
imal and trying endless times to pene- 
trate the cell and stay intracellular — 
until after about three minutes every- 



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tnirg disappeared. Putting elec:rcces 
into a cell and voltage clamping it took 
a tew minutes; then you could play 
with the membrane. 
Omni: After London you hooked up 
with Neher again? 

Sakmann: At another Max Planck Insti- 
tute in Gottingen. It had everything — 
laser physics, chemistry, cell biology, 
molecular biology — and was strong on 
physical instrumentation. When I visit- 
ed, I found Erwin there as well. He was 
looking at artificial channels, and I 
said it would be nice if we could work 
together to characterize acetylcholine 
receptor channels in muscle fibers at 
o fferen stages ol development. We al- 
ready knew that muscles in young ani- 
mals make additional receptor types. Er- 
win and I agreed to work together. We'd 
use Ka^'s ncise techniques to estimate 
the size of the currents and then study 
them more closely with the pipettes. 

But we couldn't get Erwin's pipettes 
to work on biological membranes; the 
sea wasn't tignt enough. Fortunately, I'd 
developed a technique for cleaning the 
surface membrane so that it allowed for 
intimate contact between the glass pi- 
pette and the muscle. 
Omni: Who originated the use of pi- 
pettes to study cellular activity? 
Sakmann: They were used in the For- 
ties by a chap named Karl Frank to 
look at currents in different parts of the 
cell. But no one- then ever dreamed the 
tecnr que would be used to look at a 
single channel with pipeiies 1/1 ,000 the 
size of a human hair. When Erwin was 
using pipettes to scan cellular chan- 
nels, it became clear that to reduce the 
background noise of our recording, we 
had to record from a smaller patch of 
membrane. We calculated that we need- 
ed a pipette with a diameter less than 
two or three microns. If our estimate on 
the size of the elementary current was 
correct — which we didn't know, since 
no one had ever seen one before- 
then we should be able to see these cur- 
rents recorded by our pipettes in the 
shape of little blips. In the second or 
third experiment we saw them! 
Omni: How did you do it? 
Sakmann: A whole industry is devoted 
to making intracellular electrodes, and 
it's easy to buy pipettes. The only 
thing we had to do was shape the open- 
ing at the tip with a heated filament. 
Then you press the pipette onto a neu- 
ron, and the more you press — without 
puncturing the cell — the better your 
seal. By pressing and using clean sur- 
faces, we were able to record these 
blips. This was very nice. 

But Erwin had already agreed to 
work for a year in the States. Each of 
us was struggling along on his own, 



when one day he called and said he'd 
found much nicer, longer channels and 
larger currents in pipiens, an American 
frog. This helped us, but we still wer- 
en't sure what we were measuring. I got 
hold of some pipiens in Germany, and 
this made a big difference. 

Erwin came back for Christmas, and 
we wrote one of our early papers. In the 
meantime, I'd been trying to repeat our 
experiments on the rat. The noise anal- 
ysis indicated the rat also has large chan- 
nels. We made programs for analyzing 
the recording; and pe.- levied the elec- 
tronics. Erwin built different amplifiers 
while I worked on new preparations for 
these muscle fibers. This drove me cra- 
' zy because it took two or three hours 
and was unspeakably boring, but we 
had to do it because it got lots of re- 
suits and publications. 

I was getting fed up when one day a 
nice American came to visit, Fred Sachs, 
a physicist, but working in membrane 
preparations. He showed me how to pre- 
pare muscle fibers from embryonic 
rats or chickens, You prepare a bunch, 
then let them all grow, giving you prep- 
arations for the whole week, This 
opened the way to trying many different 
experiments. 

But we still had a major drawback in 
not being able to get a tight enough 
seal. To get a tighter seal, we'd been 
sucking a piece of the membrane into 
the pipette. To clean the pipettes, we'd 
dipped the tips in resin. But one day Er- 
win forgot to clean the pipette. He just 
sucked on a pipette freshly pulled 
from the cell. Suddenly we found this 
huge increase in seal resistance. Then 
just as suddenly, it didn't work. We 
didn't know what was going on. It was 
a mystery, Sometimes it worked, and 
sometimes it didn't. Then we found 
that the pipette catches dirt when it 
crosses the surface of the cell culture, 
and if this dirt attaches to the tip, it 
doesn't work. For a month or two, noth- 
ing worked. We were desperate until a 
postdoc discovered a simple trick: A lit- 
tle puff of air blown through the ppeite 
when it touched the surface of the so- 
lution just blew away the dirt. Everything 
worked again! 
Omni: Luck again. 

Sakmann: Yes, and a short time later, 
again by chance, I discovered that 
with a tight seal, you can remove a 
patch of cell and still get recordings. I 
accidentally knocked the table. The pi- 
pette leapt out of the dish. Here was my 
preparation, here was my pipette up in 
the air, and 1 was still recording chan- 
nels! What's going on? Then I realized 
I'd removed a patch of membrane 
from the rest of the cell with its seal in- 
tact, and again this was a remarkably 

84 OMNI 



lucky observation. Now I could manip- 
ulate the ion bath on both sides of the 
membrane. This was the perfect exper- 
iment for researching ion flow. 
Omni: What did you do with these ex- 
cised cellular patches? 
Sakmann: We could bathe the patch 
from both directions, change the environ- 
ment on either side of the cell. We dis ; 
covered that if you keep on sucking 
while maintaining a high resistance 
seal, you can gain access to the intra- 
cellular side of the membrane. Conven- 
tional electrodes destroy the patch and 
the membrane as the pipette moves 
back and forth. But in this new tech- 
nique, the glass becomes a continua- 
tion of the membrane — it doesn't leak, 
Then we discovered another way to re- 
move the pipette and end up with a 
sea'ec-of" vesicle. This gave us what 
we called an outside-out patch, with the 
membrane oriented so that we could 



•I accidentally 
knocked the table; the pipette 

leapt out of the 
dish. Here was my preparation, 

here was my 
pipette up in the air, and I was 

still recording 
channels! What's going on?? 



bathe the outside of it, 

This all happened in 1980, in two 
busy weeks after Christmas. Erwin and 
I plus our two dedicated postdocs 
from Australia and France worked ke 
hell day and night and had a lot of fun! 
Our labs were adjacent, and we had no 
doors. We were just yelling, "I have a 
new configuration!" It was a hectic 
time. We both had other projects but re- 
alized the methods we'd just discov- 
e. ed were too exciting to be left alone. 
Omni: With two Germans, an American, 
a Frenchman, and an Australian in the 
lab, what language did you speak? 
Sakmann: English. 

Omni: But with occasional exclama- 
tions in French and German? 
Sakmann: Yes, "Help!" As news 
spread, many visitors came from all 
over the world bringing their own prep- 
arations, until we became a bit wary 
and wrote our methods paper, a sort of 
a cookbook. Then we collected all the 
tricks of the trade, wrote a book about 
them, and offered a course to our 
friends and collaborators. 



Omni: How widely used is the patch- 
clamp technique now? 
Sakmann: Practically every cell-physi- 
ology lab in the world uses it, By en- 
abling us to look at the elementary 
event — the current flowing through sin- 
gle channels as they operrand close — 
the technique yielded new insights in- 
to the gating process, and our set of 
rules become much more precise, The 
same thing happened for the conduc- 
tion process. To study the movements 
of ions through a single channel, you 
have to study the flow of current, plus 
the channel's gating behavior, A current 
might stop either because no more ions 
are flowing or because the channel is 
shut off, We no longer had to figure out 
whether our manipulations affected the 
gating or current. This was particularly 
helpful for studying channels created 
by recombinant DNA, another field rev- 
o.uiimbed by the new technology. 

People can now study channels not 
directly involved in fast synaptic trans- 
mission — channels that are. gated by 
second messengers or G proteins. All 
this is accessible now because the 
whole intracellj .:-/ gaiing machinery has 
become available. Sometimes you don't 
want to look at single channels down 
to the finest detail. For a new cell, 
where you want to begin with an over- 
all impression of what's there, the patch- 
clamp configuration where you open 
and do measurements on the whole 
cell is very useful. Now there is not a 
single cell you can't characterize with 
respect to its currents. 
Omni: Which of your findings were 
most surprising? 

Sakmann: That all cells have many 
types of channels in their surface mem- 
brane. This goes for muscle, nerve, and 
secretory cells. Plant cells are packed 
with these channels, swelling, opening, 
serving some sort of function. Vlysteri- 
ous channels have even been found in 
supposedly unexcitable cells that don't 
do anything with ions. 
Omni: What medical advances will 
come out of your research? 
Sakmann: Many of these newly discov- 
e r ed cnanre s have ini'T.ediate function- 
al significance, diose -egjlating intra- 
cellular metabolites. This research will 
be important for those diseases where 
ion channels are involved in signaling. 
This includes heart and muscle diseas- 
es, diabetes cys: c f bxsis. and epilep- 
sy. The patch-clamp technique won't 
cure these diseases; it just allows us to 
figu'e cu: what's wrong. 

In cystic fibrosis, the chloride chan- 
nel doesn't open as it should in the pres- 
ence of ATP. A protein malfunctions, 
but the molecular details of what's 
gone wrong aren't quite clear. Five 



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years ago, we'd be content with this 
much knowledge, but now we want to 
know if it's a problem with ion conduc- 
tance, a gating or docking of the me- 
tabolite. For diabetes, our research fo- 
cuses on one step in the cascade 
from cellular signal to secretion of in- 
sulin. The signal travels via a calcium 
influx. Calcium channels are activated 
by shutting off potassium channels. 
We've found the site of action for these 
channels, but the cause of the malfunc- 
tion still eludes us. 

Finding the site of action for seda- 
tives like Valium or substances that may 
prevent stroke or epilepsy is another ar- 
ea of research I'm involved in. Epilep- 
sy is a hyperexcitability. You treat it ei- 
ther by increasing inhibition or decreas- 
ing excitation. We're developing drugs 
that act on the glutamate receptor, You 
plug the hole, basically, to inhibit glu- 
tamate, an excitatory transmitter, from 
binding to the receptor. I'm collaborat- 
ing with a drug company on a cure for 
epilepsy. After I find the mode and site 
of action for these drugs, it will be up 
to the drug company to develop them. 

Bayer is spending a lot of money de- 



veloping calcium-chanr.e b ockers and 
other drugs that increase calcium flow. 
Ion-channel techniques clarify the sig- 
naling pathways, allowing you to think 
about how to interfere, and often tell you 
how these drugs work. 
Omni: Do you hold any patents? 
Sakmann: No. li's too exciting and too 
much trouble, really a distraction. I'm 
not going to make money out of sci- 
ence; it's far too interesting for that. 
Omni: Ave there types of channels 
that haven't been discovered yei? 
Sakmann: Many. For example, those 
that open when you stretch the mem- 
brane. But I think we've found the 
three major families of channels respon- 
sible for quick signaling. This was the 
work of the late Shosaku Numa of 
Kyoto University, with whom I collabo- 
rated. Numa characterized the amino- 
acid sequences in channels and real- 
ized they form families. It was then pos- 
sible to manipulate these sequences 
and change the properties of channels. 
Whai we're hoping for next is to crys- 
tallize a channel and see its 3-D atom- 
ic structure. 

Omni: Are you looking for a "unified 
field theory" of ion channels? 
Sakmann: That would be too much to 
ask. But the acetylcholine receptors all 
have similar energy profiles, share a 



comfnon structure in their subunits. A 
coherent picture is emerging. 
Omni: Is the scheme you're finding in 
muscle fiber present in the brain? 
Sakmann: Yes, although brain recep- 
tees nave additiora properties. Fo- exam- 
ole, inhiOixry ehame s : n the CMS car 
be modulated by sedatives like Valium. 
D:::es tins mean our brain has endog- 
enous Valium? Why else would it al- 
ready have channels for Valium? 
These channels aren't present at the 
neuromuscular junction. 
Omni: Exceptions aside, do ion chan- 
nels often function like those in muscle? 
Sakmann: We're using concepts and 
analyses developed at the neuromus- 
cular junction to explain currents and 
gating we see in the brain. Pecp'e as.'- 
me this question and then make fun of 
tne answer, accusing rr,e cf saying ins 
brain is nothing more than a big mus- 
cle. Still, all transrr tter-gstsd charne.s 
that subserve fast synaptic transnrss en 
do share common arr.ino-acio sentienc- 
es and functional similarities and, I be- 
lieve, certain principles, 
Omni: If the brain works like a muscle, 
how should I exercise it? 
Sakmann: li would be nice to improve 
synaptic functioning, but I have no idea 
what it would take. That's what we're 
trying to find out. DQ 



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EDUCATION 



we can talk about a rhombus." 

Down the hall, another group of teach- , 
ers might be rolling toy cars down a 
ramp, stuffing marsh mallows into a 
c'e.ss container, or bouncing supe-oalls 
around— all in the. name of science. 
These experiments explore variables 
such as mass, density, volume, and ar- 
ea, but the format is always the same: 
Draw a picture of what you're doing, put 
the data you collect into a table, turn 
these numbers into a graph, and then 
answer questions. Besides learning the 
classic "scientific method" for approach- 
ing experiments, the aim is to stimulate 
discussion and get kids thinking. 

In one of the experiments teachers 
learn, children go around measuring 
their classmates' arm span versus 
height. With rulers in hand, they soon 
discover thai for any individual, the two 
lengths are about the same. If you're 4 
feet 3 inches high, you're also roughly 
4 feet 3 inches across with your arms 
outstretched. In addition, all the kids in 
the class— because they're about the 
same age and height — will wind up in 
roughly the same area on the graph, 
forming a cluster. The tough part 
comes when the students must look at 
the information and try to make some 
orec'ic'.ons. '"What about Michael Jor- 
dan?' I ask the kids," says Academy sci- 
ence instructor Mike Kennedy. "Where ' 
would he be on this graph? What 
about the kids in kindergarten? What 
about a kangaroo 9 ' Most teachers- are 
used to just standing at the board and 
imparting facts to their students and 
must learn this "Socratic method" of 
drawing knowledge out. 

The Key to Success 

The stumbling block to science for 
most people is the. mathematics re- 
quired; It's an essential tool for being 
able to write or communicate the laws 
of nature, Or as Lederman so neatly 
puis it, "Math is the language of sci- 
ence, like English is for Shakespea'C." 
According to Sylvia S. Smith, the 
Academy's 'f.ain di'ec:or. "Is not teach- 
ers' faults they don't know this lan- 
guage. They were only given 'how-to 
cook cock.' technic.jes icr teaching ba- 
sic arithmetic — like, 'Take the one and 
carry it here.' Ncuung abo.i: getting math- 
ematical ideas, concepts, and princi- 
ples across in any depth." So at the 
Academy, even something evidently as 
s -pie as adding 5 + 3 = 8 is treated 
as more than a fact to be memorized. 
Here it's a mathematical equation that 
provides an early introduction to alge- 
braic thinking. "In that case," she 
says, "the equals sign doesn't mean the 
answer is coming up; it's pointing to bal- 
ance. What do we need on one side of 



■his cciua:or :o balance ;he other?" 

After 16 weeks of "his innovative I rain- 
ing, teachers are up and running on 
their own — but not alone. Implementa- 
tion specialists go out with them into 
tner classrooms aid co-i.caeo these les- 
sons in science and math. And the 
same specialists stay with each school 
on an ongoing basis to keep the pro- 
gram fine tuned, for more than two 
years, getting teachers comfortable 
with the new techniques. According to 
second-grade ;eacier Baroars B:bcs. 
this support is the real beauty of the 
Teacher's Academy. "It wasn't just 
someone ataocmg uo and sayng, Dc 
:his and do that.' " she says. "We actu- 
ally went through the activities that 
would make us change our methods 



and try out different approaches." 

Even after this training phase ends, 
the Academy never lets go of its stu- 
dents. A computer is hooked up at 
each school so :eachers can keep 
abreast of new Academy courses and 
communicate directly, with the instruc- 
tors through electronic mail. "They be- 
come part of us," says Lourcies Ivlon- 
teagudo, director o: the Academy. "We 
create a support system where teach- 
ers can come back and say, 'Hey, you 
know I tried this; it didn't work,' We 
keep inviting them back for more." 

The Odds 

Despite :he Acadc-y s excellent train- 
ing and support, however, tnesc Chica- 
go teachers sc i face norendous prob- 



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ems ir the ' classrooms. More than two- 
thirds of the district's children come 
from famjljes that are below the pover- 
ty level. The city's high-school drop- 
out rate is officially reported at 45 per- 
cent but more accurately may be as 
high as 60 or 70 percent. And Chica- 
go students perform very poorly on na- 
tional tests, with over half the city's 
high schools ranking in the lowest 1 per- 
centile on their Aptitude College Test 
scores. Can good teaching make a dif- 
ference under these circumstances? 

"A lot of the cycle-of-poverty litera- 
ture is based on the bias that somehow 
poor children cannot learn and that sci- 
ence and math are too. difficult to be 
taught to these children," says fvlon- 
teagudo. "But we say we don't care if 
a kid is poor or not, if he has a good 
mom or doesn't. If teachers aren't threat- 
ened by math and science, they can 
communicate these subjects and kids 
can learn." 

Math, in fact, is now being called "the 
gatekeeper" in American society. A re- 
cer: sludy by :he College Board in New 
York City found that minority students 
who completed algebra and geometry 
in high school would go on to succeed 
in college at nearly the same rate as 
White students, But few Black and His- 
panic children get the right training in 

Si OMNI 



elementary school. By the time they 
reach high school, it's too late: These 
students have already been "tracked" 
into vocational or remedial math pro- 
grams and excluded from the academ- 
ic path that leads to college. As one ed- 
Lca-. : onal researcher sums up the situ- 
ation; "The mathematics classroom is 
one of the most segregated places in 
American Society." 

Because early math training is so cru- 
cial for later success, a major goal at 
the Academy has been to reach ele- 
mentary-school children, making sure 
they're ready to enroll in algebra in the 
first year of high school. "I don't know 
what to do about unsafe streets, crum- 
bling buildings, or indifferent parents," 
says Lederrnan. "But if we can make 
math and science fun, if we can con- 
vince kids that math and science well 
done in school leads to jobs and em- 
ployment later on, then there is away 
out of the ghetto. And what other way 
out is there?" 

In the Trenches 

John C. Haines Elementary is a typical 
school where the Academy program 
has been tried: All the students come 
from low-income families and many 
have difficult lives. "My Afro-American 
.children are mostly from single-family 



nornes," says Candy Heaston, princi- 
pal of Haines. "And they see a lot of peo- 
ple hurt, a lot of people killed, a lot of 
drugs." Just to get to school each morn- 
ing, the kids who live in the "lckes"and 
the "Hillard," two nearby public-hous- 
ing projects, must pass through a dim- 
ly lit tunnel that runs under the Dan Ry- 
an Expressway. "It's horrible," says Heas- 
tOft, "If s filled with liquor bottles and 
smells of urine." 

While it's too soon to evaluate the 
Academy's eves. I cisclve-rsss, the ear- 
ly signs at Haines are good. Last year, 
on the basis of their high math scores, 
five Haines elementary students were 
accepted to one of the most se'eclivo 
public nigh schools in Chicago, Lincoln 
Park. The year before, only one Haines 
student qualified. Haines was also re- 
cently honored by coming in second in 
a citywide mstn contest among all of Chi- 
cago's e'ementary schools. In almost 
every grade, Haines students are per- 
forming better on their statewide math 
and science tests than they did before, 
sometimes improving as much as two 
grade levels in a single jump. 

Different Haines teachers have tak- 
en to the Academy training to varying 
degrees, but overall, there is a new ex- 
citement and commitment to teaching 
math and science that can be felt 



throughout the building. Cheryl Casey 
now does two math periods a day with 
her third graders instead of one. She us- 
es jellybeans to teach kids about data 
co lection and making bar graphs : and 
bundles of Popsicle sticks to convoy the 
concepts of multiplication and division. 
While kids are standing in line for 
lunch or gym, Casey often throws qu ck- 
ie math problems out, such as, "If all 
the children in this class were wearing 
mittens, how many mittens would there 
be?" This year, children entered her 
class already knowing about penta- 
gons, hexagons, and octagons, so she 
could quickly move on. "I can see a dif- 
ference in this group of children," she 
says. "They're more interested in 
math, I have very few students who 
don't do their homework now." 

Cynthia Ball, who teaches eighth 
grade, used to just do "textbook sci- 
ence'' wiih her students — read the par- 
agraph and answer questions — and 
both she and the students were tota'.y 
bored. But going to the Academy "has 
nvigoratec science for me," says Ball, 
"and my kids are more enthused and 
receptive " She row devotes double pe- 
riods for science experiments that run 
for several days at a stretch, so stu- 
dents can fully work through a concept. 

Teaching pi was one of her favorites. 
Ball herself had simply memorized that 
pi was a mathematical constant eqjai 
to 3.14, something you stuck into afor- 
mula to calculate the circumference of 
a circle. But it had never really meant 
anything to her until she and her stu- 
dents did an Academy experiment. 
They took different sized cans and cut 
pieces of string to the length of their dif- 
ferent diameters, No matter what the 
size of the can, they found that the 
piece of string always wrapped around 
its outside just three times with a little 
bit left over. In other words, the circum- 
ference was always equal to a little 
more than three times the diameter— 
orthe constant of 3,14. "To actually see 
what it meant," says Ball, "was enlight- 
ening. The kids never forgot it and it 
was a wonderful experience for me." 

Breaking children into small groups 
and using hands-on manipulative ob- 
jects seems to work particularly well 
with children who are having difficulties. 
Special blocks, which are- made in units 
of ones, tens, and hundreds, helped the 
third graders in Casey : s tutoring group 
: mal y conquer their problems w.th sub- 
traction, A number of shy, withdrawn chil- 
dren — including a learning-disabled 
girl in Ball's class— have surprised 
everyone by emerging as group lead- 
ers in science, directing others in how 
to conduct experiments. Most import- 
ant of all, these new teaching, metroes 



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seem to cut out much of the frustration 
arc; emoarrassmcnt associated with tra- 
ditional learning. "Instead of getting a 
big X next to a wrong answer, which is 
devastating to a child : " says Bibbs, "the 
manipulatives let them see what is re- 
ally happening. We don't say it's right 
or wrong anymore. We ask, 'Did it 
work? Didn't it work 1 ? How can we 
change it if it doesn't work?'" 

An Evolving Experiment 
There have been many difficulties in try- 
ing to bring about this level of educa- 
tional reform. Some teachers have 
found working with the Academy— and 
its methods— tough. "It's harder to 
teach this way," says Casey. " It's a 
pain in the neck if you're not organized. 



So you have teachers who have all 
:nese ■"'arioula lives s:i I locked up in box- 
es." Others are simply bothered by the 
new noise and activity that begins to 
break out in their classrooms. "Kids are 
going to talk to each .other, and they 
may go out in the hall to conduct an ex- 
periment," says Academy science in- 
structor Kennedy. ''But some teachecs 
are used to just having kids sit and do 
their work. Unless there's quiet, they 
think there's no learning going on," 

According to Heaston, she's had 
some colleagues who found it difficult 
dealing with the Academy. And Leder- 
man acknowledges that there were 
many ogfetfcgl problems, especially ear- 
ly on, "We made a lot of mistakes. And 
last fall we stopped taking new 



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schools for a time in order to rethink our 
program and make changes in it." The 
Academy is now running more training 
sessions after school, on weekends, 
and during the summer in order to be 
less disruptive. More time is taken to in- 
troduce schools to the program before 
they're accepted for intensive retraining, 
Replacement teachers are not only be- 
ing used more sparingly these days, 
but are being supplied at a much low- 
er cost from the Board of Education's 
regular substitute pool, "Part of our 
goal," says Monteagudo, "is to keep 
costs low so the model can be replicat- 
ed in other big cities." It's a strategy 
that appears to be paying off. "We've 
already had inquiries from Oakland, 
San Francisco, New York, Pittsburgh, 
and Miami," says Richard Stephens at 
the Department of Energy, "all cities 
that have similar problems to Chicago." 

To keep this experiment going, Le- 
derman has had to make a number of 
personal sacr fices. "I've given up a lot 
to do this," he says. "My research has 
been 'educed. to one postdoc whom I 
hardly talk to anymore. Mostly I've giv- 
en up peace of mind. It's nerve wrack- 
ing running a project like this." Leder- 
man admits to being much more com- 
fortable in science than in the volatile 
world of inner-city politics. "It's too 
much in variables you can't control — 
people, temperaments, bureaucrats." 
His biggest difficulty is often in fund- 
f a:King. Wh le :he Academy is now op- 
craling with close to $6 million a year 
in grants, Lederman says he'll need 
more like $20 million if he's going to get 
through a i of Chicago's leacners by the 
year 2000. The Academy's track record 
to date: 1409 teachers in 42 schools 
have undergone an intensive teacher- 
enhancement program in math, sci- 
ence, and technology; 15 new schools 
are now beginning the three-year pro- 
gram; another 4,400 teachers have 
been reached through less Intensive 
workshops and networks. "We're really 
just at the beginning," he says. 

During those tough times, when eve- 
rything feels like a struggle, Lederman 
says he keeps ni~se.' on track by keep- 
ing in mind the children they're trying 
to help. "Every day, 400,000 kids in Chi- 
cago get up out of their beds and go 
through who-knows-what to get to 
school. Maybe they should have a 
good time there. Maybe it should com- 
pete with the streets." And of course, 
there are those magic moments when 
everything seems to fall into place. "You 
go into a school and hear a little kid say, 
'Hey, what's your independent varia- 
ble?'" Lederman says in a put-on 
Chicago accent. "And you could almost 
cry it's so nice. "DO 



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before and who has landed on a peo- 
ny now and is looking real cute, 

"Chicks?" I say. "Haven't you heard 
about the butterfly effect?" 

"You mean about us causing ty- 
phoons?" Buzz says. "Sure, man." 

"So what are we going to do about 
it?" I say. 

"Do about it?" he says, sounding sur- 
prised. "Nothing, man. Chicks love it, 
They like guys they think are trouble, 
Watch this," 

He peels out, and I follow him over 
to the peonies and land next to the 
chick, who doesn't even notice me. 

She is looking at old Buzz. "Is it true 
you can cause a typhoon in China?" 
she says. 

"If I'm in the mood," he says, hold- 
ing his wings real still, like he's afraid 
he'll hurt something if he moves. "I 
made it snow in Montana last week." 
"Really?" she says, all lluttery. 
"Thirty inches in the middle of 
June," he says. "Wanna go for a ride?" 
"I don't know if I should," she says, 
all giggly. "You might be dangerous!" 
"I might," he says. 
"You call a snowstorm dangerous?" 
I say, real cool. "Anybody can make it 
snow in Montana." 

"What's that supposed to mean?" 
Buzz says. 

"Nothing," I say. "if that's the best 
you can do. Now, a really dangerous 
guy," I say to the chick, "wouldn't 
waste his time on Montana. He'd stir up 
a blizzard down in Florida." 
"Can you c/othat?" she says. 
"Last week," I say, real casual. 
"Wiped out the whole orange crop. 
This week I'm working on- tornadoes." 
"Really?" she says. "Where?" 
"Texas," I say, and flap my wings a 
couple of times, real casual. 

She gives a little scream. "How many 
tornadoes?" she says. 
"How many do you want?" 
"Tornadoes in Texas are nothing. I 
can do 'em in Minnesota. Watch this," 
Buzz says, revving up his wings, but the 
chick isn't paying attention. 

"Can you do nice weather, too?" she 
says to me. 

"Sure," I say. "Balmy breezes, warm 
nights . . , ," and right then these two 
other really cute chicks fly up and ask 
me if I can do monsoons, and I can see 
old Buzz is right. Chicks love it. And I 
have to hand it to humans. Their theo- 
ries aren't much, but they come up 
with some great ways to get chicks. 

"I can do dust storms in Kansas," 
Buzz says, flapping his wings like era- 



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tion. 

"Can you do hurricanes?" one of the ' 
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"Sure," I say. :, Watch this." 

—By Connie Willis 

THE EINSTEIN EXPRESS 

"Whatever you do, don't offend Mr. Sol- 
omon," Monica said, pushing David up 
the stairs to the commuter platform. She 
:uqged his five-inch-wide Windsor-knot- 
ted tie straight. Monica always took 
such a motherly interest in his appear- 
ance. She would never, she told him, 
let him embarrass either of them. 

"I'm not a child, Monica." 

"You need this accounting job, 
David. It's 1941. I can't marry a man 
who fritters a:vav h s t ,: >j on ojtter flies." 

"I know Monica." David was im- 
pressed by the authority of her eye- 
brows. Monica had the eyebrows of a 
five-star general, "But you're going to 
hate waiting for me while I make this 
long commute." 

She pinched his cheek, "1 have 
ways to keep myself occupied. See you 
tonight." As she turned to go David 
tried to kiss her, but she danced away. 
"David! Don't be an animal!" She got 
into Lance's Buick and drove off. 

David stood amid the other commut- 
ers waiting for the train at the New Zi- 
on station, He really wanted to be a lepi- 
dopterologist, not an accountant, but no- 
body needed butterfly collectors. From 
his side pocket he pulled the folder con- 
taining the specimen Yabadaba floog- 
lus he'd received in the mail the day be- 
fore and examined it, dreaming of Ama- 
zonian jungles and the thrill of the hunt. 
The floaglus was very rare; he had 
spent fifteen dollars on it. 

At the other end of the platform a 
young woman in an overcoat and sneak- 
ers was prowling around muttering to 
herself. She peered toward David, sn eld- 
ing, her eyes with her hand, and 
Stalked over to him, "Have you seen Mr. 
Smith?" 

"Mr. Smith?" 

"He should be here somewhere." 

"What does he look like?" 

"Well actually, you can't tell. He's in 
a box." She had a pale oval face and 
straight dark hair, Her coat was four siz- 
es too large. "You have him, don't you. 
What did you do with him?" 

"What?" 

"Did you open the box? Has there 
been a spontaneous decay? Did the bot- 
tle break?" 

"My good woman—" 

"I'm not a woman, I'm a physicist. 
You look like you could be a scientist — 
or an accountant." 



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"1 am an accountant — " 

"I'm sorry to hear that." 

' — and I have no idea what I'd want 
with Mr. Smith or his box—" 

"My box." 

The other people on the platform 
were staring at them. He supposed he 
had to humor this madwoman just so 
she'd shut up. And if somebody was in- 
deed trapped in a box he really ought 
to help. :, Maybe it's in the baggage 
room." They searched through the sta- 
tion's baggage room. Ten minutes lat- 
er she had him trapped behind a steam- 
er'irunk while the local for New York ar- 
rived, and left. "I've missed my train!" 
David shouted. 

"So what? I've missed my dog." 

"Your dog! You kept me here look- 
ing for your dog? I have a meeting with 
one of the most important young exec- 
utives in Manhattan today!" 

"Well, you're not likely to run into him 
here." 

David considered strangling her. 
"What time does the next train leave? 
I have to get there fast." 

"We'll take the express. It should be 
arriving any time now." 

Sure enough, as soon as she spoke 
s streamlined train pulled into the sta- 
tion. The engine was sleek as a bullet, 
the cars burnished silver. David found 
a seat in a coach that hummed as if it 
were full of energy. The train pulled out, 
accelerating smoothly. David was 
pinned in his seat. Through the window 
the scenery began to blur. 

"You know," the crazy woman said, 
"the baggage handlers may have al- 
ready loaded the experiment on 
board." She turned to him. "My name 
is Susan. What's yours?" 

Back n New Zion a year passed, and 
still Monica had heard nothing from 
David. He was as gone as Judge Cra- 
ter. "How Gould this happen to me?" 
Monica asked Lance. "Jilted by a man 
who doesn't know how to tie his own 
necktie!" 

Lance smoothed his mustache. "He's 
probably just dodging the draft." 

Monica brushed away a tear. "The 
swine! Thank God you're 4-F." 

"Yes, thank God — for your sake." He 
touched her cheek, "But tempus fvgft, 
darling. You need to move on." 

"Don't even think it, Lance — no 
amount of time will heal this wound!" 

Doesn't this train seem to be moving a 

little fast?" David asked. 
"You wanted the express, didn't you? 

This is the Einstein Express." 
"Yes, but how fast does it go?" 
"Somewhere near the speed of 

light. Now let's find Mr. Smith." 



"The speed of light! 1 guess I'll be 
home early after all." 

Susan looked a little .uncomfortable. 
"Actually, we may be a little late." 

David got out of his seat. "In that 
case I'd better :elec/am Monica." 

"Monica? She probably forgot all 
about you a long time ago." 

David thought this woman really ■■/■.■■as 
the most abrupt person he'd ever met, 
"Monica wouldn't do that. We're to bs 
married." 

"A girl can't wait forever. She has to 
sc'ue ihe day." 

David blushed. "I'm not the sort of fel- 
low who seizes things." 

"I can see that." 

He found the conductor, with Susan 
tagging along like a faithful terrier. "My 
good man. I need to send a telegram 
to Miss Monica Finch, 223 Swallow 
Lane, New Zion." 

"New Zion! We left there ages ago, 



4The engine 

was sleek as a 

bullet, the 

cars burnished silver. 

David found 
a seat in a coach that 

hummed as if 
it were full of energy. 9 



pal. She's not going to want to hear 
from you." 

"Let me be the judge of that." 

The man handed David a yelicw tel- 
egraph form. Susan shoved a pencil in- 
to his hand. "I'll dictate," she told him. 
"Take this down. Teii her— 'Making very 
good time.'" She leaned over his shoul- 
der. He felt her warm breath on his 
cheek. "Events developing more rapid- 
ly than expected." 

"More rapidly- than expected," 
David repeated. His heart fluttered like 
a Mariners spasticus. He felt a wisp of 
Susan's hair on his cheek. She rS&l y 
was quite attractive, for a physicist wear- 
ing sneakers. 

"Should be home for supper," she 
continued. "Sign it, 'Love, David'— no, 
make that, 'Devotedly David.' No, bet- 
ter make that 'In haste, David.'" 

She kissed his ear, took the form and 
handed it to the conductor, "Send that 
pronto, Jackson." 

It was a lovely wedding. Monica 
looked simply radiant, and everyone 



was so hapoy na: she rao finally got 
ten over her abandonment by tna: wool- 
ly brained butterfly nut who'd disap- 
peared on the eve of their marriage. 

The reception was an unqualified suc- 
cess. Champagne in barrels, the cake 
a feathery dream, with a swing band 
playing the latest Sinatra hits anc 
everyone celebrating the end of war- 
time privation, Late in the evening a dis- 
auieting :elegran arrived. MAKING 
VERY GOOD TIME, it said. EVENTS DE- 
VELOPING MORE RAPIDLY THAN EX- 
PECT. SHOULD BE HOME FOR SUP- 
PER. IN HASTE, DAVID. 

Monica stewed about the prank for 
months. She and Lance honeymooned 
in CaPfornia and settled Into Lance's big 
Georgian house. Still, the te egram 
gnawed at her. Finally, a year and a 
half after the nuptials, on the day she 
found she was going to have a baby, 
she shot off a reply care of the Hudson 
vallov Ra iroad. TO WHOM IT MAY CON- 
CERN: DROP DEAD. 

Tne instant the conductor got done send- 
ing the message., the ticker chattered 
out a reply. He tore off the tape. "It's 
for you," he said, handing it to David. 

David read. TO WHOM IT MAY CON- 
CERN; DROP DEAD. 

"What's that supposed to mean? 
Send a return telegram," 

"Tha: N be six:y-two dollars," 

"Sixty-two dollars!" 

"A hundred twenty-four, total, with the 
first telegram." 

"That's outrageous!" 

"This is the Einstein Express, buddy. 
We got overhead. How much diesel fu- 
el you think it takes to get a train up to 
the speed of light?" 

"That depends entirely on how many 
liters you burn per unit of acceleration," 
Susan said. "Now if — " 

"Excuse us," said David, draygng 
her off by the elbow. They went to the 
club car, where David slumped glumly 
in a lounge seat. "Now what?" 

Susan picked up a heavy bronze ash- 
tray, "David, look! We can tie a note to 
this ashtray, then throw it off when we 
pass the next station!" 

David wondered why, at that mo- 
ment, he felt the urge to flee. 

Lance and Monica had three children, 
two boys and a girl. Lance worked 
hard and got a job in the office of that 
rising yoi..ng congressman, Dick Nxor 
If things broke right in the '52 election, 
they would be sitting pretty. 

David stuck his head out of the hatch- 
way in the baggage car roof. He bal- 
anced unsteadily on three cages of 
chickens they'd stacked up so he 



could open the door. "I can't see any- 
thing! There's a green blur of scenery, 
rushing past, but when I look ahead 
and behind it's all black." 

"Vfe're moving too fast. The light com- 
ing from the things in front of us is blue- 
shifted out of visibility. In back of us it's 
red-shifted." 

"So how will I know when we pass 
the station?" 

Susan reached into the pocket of her 
voluminous coat and handed up a flash- 
light. "A radio flashlight. Get up on the 
roof, and shine it forward toward the sta- 
tion. Look for the clock on the platform." 

David climbed up, peered unsteadi- 
ly ahead, He saw a lighted disk, the 
clock face, but he couldn't read it. 
"Something's wrong," he shouted 
down to her above the buffeting wind. 
"The hands are spinning around in a 
blur." 

"It's Dopplered!" Susan yelled. 

Dopplered shmopplered. The station 
was coming up fast. David gave 
Susan the flashlight, then tossed the ash- 
tray off the train. 

The ashtray, traveling at nearly the 
speed oi ight. exo oceci ihrough the sta- 
tion like President Eisenhower through 
the front nine. From the platform, 
Woodrow and Morval watched the ex- 
press fash by. A very thin man stood 
on top fumbling with a flashlight. 

"Did you see that, IMorval?" 

"They's mighty skinny folks on that 
train. Service must be out in the club 
car." 

"But they were going too fast. We've 
got to call the next station." 

"Mighty skinny tie that fella's wearing, 
too." 

"Get on the horn to Elkdale. Tell 
them we've got a runaway commuter 
train on our hands." 

■'A short runaway commuter train. 
Kinda squashed. Cars about three feet 
long." Wbodrow inspected the ashtray- 
shggsad hole that ran through the exte- 
rior wall, the cigarette machine, the cal- 
endar photo of Marilyn Monroe, and the 
other wall. "Hope they notice the Par- 
simmony Tunnel up ahead," he mut- 
tered. 

"I did it!" David shouted. But peering 
behind them in the gloom, he couldn't 
see where the message had landed. 
"Hand me the flashlight!" 

"The what?" 

"The flashlight." 

Susan stuck her head higher out of 
the baggage car roof, "Tunnel!" 

"What?" 

"Tunnel!" She pointed frantically be- 
hind him. 

"Tunnel?" David turned, around, 



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shone the flashlight ahead and 
glimpsed a blue reflection of masonry. , 

After Nixon lost the election in 1960 
Lance got a job in advertising. "See the 
USA in your Chevrolet" — that was one 
of his. Also, "You'll wonder where the 
yellow went, when you brush your 
teeth with Pepsodent." 

Monica gained twenty pounds and 
took up bridge. Lance gained thirty and 
played golf, Their daughter Amelie 
flipped out over some hairy boys from 
England. Youth, her parents said, was 
wasted on the young. 

They struggled to untangle themselves 
from the explos or- oi broker cages, lug- 
gage, and chickens. "That was terrific. 
Got any more bright ideas?" 

"I said tunnel!" 

David found his glasses under roan 
her, the bridge of them snapped. "Say, 
didn't that station look rather 
squashed to you? Like maybe it was on- 
ly three feet from one end of the plat- 
form to the other? Windows like slits in 
a wall? Roof peaked like a knits, edge? 
Skinny station workers wearing skinny 
lies?" 

"It's the Lorentz-FitzGerald contrac- 
tion." 

"Is that a design trend?" 

The chickens fluttered and 
squawked. Suddenly they heard a 
growl, and a white terrier launched it- 
self out of one of the upended boxes. 
"Mr. Smith!" Susan exclaimed. The dog 
chased chickens in frantic circles 
around the car. David and Susan fell 
over suitcases and each other trying to 
grab him. Finally David, diving over a 
trunk like an Olympic swimmer, seized 
the barking dog. 

He wrestled grimly with the wriggling 
terrier. "Well, we found him." 

Susan looked into Mr. Smith's box. 
"Before the bottle of patchouli broke. 
What a disaster that would have 
been!" 

On her twentieth birthday, Amelie re- 
ceived a message meant for her moth- 
er. Her parents were in Cancun on 
their second honeymoon. The telegram 
read: ARRIVED NYC, CAN'T WAIT TO 
SEE YOU, DAVID. 

After the Einstein Express pulled into 
Grand Central and David sent a tele- 
gram, they hurried along 42nd Street to 
Third Avenue. David couldn't get over 
how busy the city seemed. The place 
was full of long, low cars with rocket- 
like fins on their tails. Hatless men with 
skinny ties jostled through the streets. 
The interview with Solomon started 
poorly. He had no record of an appoint- 



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merit, gawked openly ai their clothing, 
and seemed more interested in his ap- 
proaching retirement than in account- 
ants, On his walls hung display eases 
ot butie'lies. David. remornrjering, fum- 
bled for the flooglus in his pocket. Mi- 
raculously, it was undamaged. 

Solomon perked up. "Is that a Yabad- 
aba ficoglus?' David handed it over. 
"Why. I've been searching for this but- 
terfly for twenty years. It's aKosI exlirc:! 
Where did you get it?" 
"I've had it for some time." 
"I can : t tell you how grateful I am, my 
boy." He thrust a fistful of banknotes at 
David. "No, that's not enough, Here, let 
me write you a check, Would ten thou- 
sand be fair?" 

"That would be generous." 
"Better still. I'll invest it for you. 
Some U.S. Steel? General Motors?" 

"I don't know much about those 
things." 

"What are you interested in?" 
"Well, I'm an accountant, I could use 
a new adding machine." 

"Business machines! Perfect! We'll 
get you a few hundred shares of IBM." 

The train ride back was uneventful. 
David sent Monica a series of tele- 
grams. Susan played hide-the-stock- 
portfolio with Mr, Smith, 

"Monica must be wondering what hap- 
pened to me. We're hours late. What a 
fool I've been!" 

"It's all my fault." 

"That's easy for you to say. 
Everyone knows you're just crazy," He 
tried to figure out a way to repair the 
bridge of his glasses. 

"You're really quite handsome, you 
know, without your glasses." 

"Monica says I should wear them all 
the time." 

"You must just love Monica." 

"She has wonderful eyebrows," 

"I'll bet she does. I bet strong men 
faint when they see her eyebrows." 

David put the broken halves of his 
glasses back in his pocket. "At least 
Monica never got me up on top of a 
train going at nine-tenths the speed of 
light to enter a tunnel." 

During the last five years, after forty 
years of silence, Monica had received 
a raft of messages from some trickster 
purporting to be David. INTERVIEW 
SUCCESSFUL. THINKING OF YOU. 
CANT WAIT. DO YOU LOVE ME? AR- 
RIVING SOON NEW ZION. MEET ME 
AT STATION. Monica ignored them. 

It happened that Thanksgiving sea- 
son, however, that Monica and Lance 
decided to meet their grandson Derek 
and his family when they came for the 
holidays. Lance and Monica drove to 

110 OMNI 



-.ho sl.aiior n the l.ircch. I" hey stood on 
the platform and remembered the fate- 
ful day when she had been saved from 
an inappropriate match by the disap- 
pearance of that fool David. 

The train slowed, At last, squealing, it 
pulled into the station, David, Susan 
and Mr. Smith got off. The sign below 
the eaves read, "New Zion," but the sta- 
:icn was d'Terent. The outside was shab- 
bier. The concession stand and restau- 
rant were gone. Graffiti covered the 
walls: RELATIVITY IS SPECIAL. 

On the platform loitered a boy and a 
girl. The boy wore fluorescent green 
sneakers as large as combat boots and 
an underwea-shin witn witing on it: :: Bo 
knows nacking." The girl's shirt read, 
"Just do it." The boy had four earrings 
in his left ear. The girl wore black 
tights and a stunningly short skirt. Her 
hair was orange. "Check that suit! Se- 
riously damaged!" 

"It's not damaged," David said. 
"Just rumpled from the chickens." 

"Rad!" 

An old man and woman stepped for- 
ward. "Pardon me," the woman asked 
David, "is this the train from Hartford?" 

"This is the Einstein Express." The 
woman looked vaguely ferni iar. Her eye- 
brows straggled out like the branches 
of a gnarled oak. For a moment David 
thought it might be Monica's grandmoth- 
er. Then he felt a sinking feeling, "Moni- 
ca?" 

"I beg your pardon, young man. Do 
I know you?" 

He looked at the old woman, the old 
man beside her. "No, I guess you 
don't." 

The woman leaned forward and whis- 
pered, "You know, your tie is crooked." 

He pulled it off and handed ft to 
Lance. "Actually, you can have it." 

David and Susan went into the sta- 
tion and had a cup of bad vending ma- 
chine coffee, which cost a dollar. 
Susan bought a paper, which cost an- 
other, David stared disconsolately out 
the window at the sunny fall day. Mr. 
Smith watched the squirrels burying 
nuts. "Talk about a long commuter 
David said, "Susan what will we do?" 

"How about lepidopterology?" 

"But everything's changed!" 

"That's not necessarily bad," she 
said ex.amir ng the stock prices. 

"I suppose we've missed some inter- 
esting developments," David mused. 
Susan looked up, and he noticed for the 
first time what a lovely shade of brown 
her eyes were. "I don't want to miss any 
more." 

The girl with the "Just do it" shirt 
walked by. "Carpe diem," Susan said, 
.and kissed him. — By John KesselDQ 




CREDITS 

Page 4, top: ~e:e f Lieoke page 4, bot- 
tom left: Brad Holland; page 4, mid- 
dle: Harald Sund/lmage Bank; pi 
4, bottom right: Henner Prefi: page 6: 
Greg Vaughn; page 10: Richard How- 
ard; page 12: SEGA; page 16: NA- 
SA; page 18: Bertmann Arch'ves: pai 
es 20 and 24: Jscek Yerka/Morphei. 
Int.; page 28: Rob Day: page 30: 
Tony Wang; page 33: Roger Ress- 
"~eye7StaJigh". page 35; BIISwe-t;sy/ 
Gamma Liaison; page 36, top left: F 
ter Arnold; page 36, bottom right: I 
age Bank; page 37, bottom left; Photo 
J esca.'chers: page 37, top right: I 
age Bank; page 38, top left: Image 
Bank; page 38, bottom right: Ira Grun- 
ther; page 40: Bettmann Archives; 
page 42: James Cherry; page 52, 
large center: Henner Prefi; page 52, 
left: Image Bank; page 52, middle: 
Wooc ■ : i" . ''C am o; page 52. right: Image 
Bank; page 53, left and right: Image 
ik; page 86. top left: Jef rey Hamil- 
page 86, bottom right: SYGMA; 
_e 87, top left: Ron Lowery/Stock- 
market; page 87, bottom right: NASA. 
e 112, top: Tony Wang; page 112, 
bottom: The Orvis Company. 



BEATING THE BOTTLE: 

Can you figure out the puzzle that stumped Scot? 

By Scot Morris 



Several years ago, Will 
Strijbos, the Dutch puzzlisi, 
gave me a bottle (top right). 
Firmly fixed inside the mouth 
was a metal tube that 
extended about halfway 
down, and trapped inside 
the bottle was a plastic 
cylinder about an inch long 
and just small enough 
to fit into the tube. Strijbos 
challenged me to get 
the plug out of the bottle, 

"If you give up, the 
solution is in here," he said, 
handing me an envelope. 

To solve the bottle puzzle, 
I considered using string, 
rubber bands, water, or 
centrifugal force, but none 
even seemed worth trying. 
I could get the plug to stand 
upright on the bottom and 
then tap the glass to scoot it 
to the middle, but then 
what? Turning the bottle up- 
side down just caused 
the plug to fall off to the side. 

I hate to admit this, but 
1 spent less than a minute 
on this puzzle before I tore 
into the envelope. Inside 
was a sheet of paper with 
Strijbos' address on it — and 
nothing else. Had he 
neglected to enclose the 
instructions? Was I sup- 
posed to write to him for the 
answer? I put the puzzle 
away and forgot about it. 

Two years later, I learned 
that I had overlooked an 
obvious solution. The an- 
swer to this and the other 
puzzles presented this 
month appear below. 

FAVORITE TOY OF 1993: 
The Ritz Cracker Thrower 
($19.95, shown above); call 
Orvis at (800) 548-9548 to 
order. Orvis, a hunting- 
fishing company, offers this 
gadget for skeet shooters: 

112 OMNI 




Maw/r mm >/"»» 
(gffiir ifriiw £&k?3Uii«j 
ayiltrsrfvBH' isw.1- 
in/I: $h& 8»«MS© 
tyup left}? 
Sir S«wfa ?/sg<#/A 

■;y-p!i- >{i<n:i;i<m >tii> 
fihu'lh wf 
haw,, $/o>akfa'i% 
Vitt<r w Mevwl 
WSy to fts&«i! 

Ivy fin Hiifca 

CroctMr 

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left- wvi<& 

'ivimihwi-s. 



Instead of paying for a clay 
pigeon that litters the 
landscape, pay just pennies 
for a target that drops edible 
crumbs, I don't shoot skee't, 
but I can throw a Low Salt 
Ritz more than 70 yards. 

A PUZZLE TO PONDER: 
Tim Rowett of England 
showed me a plastic 
storage jar with a vacuum 
pump attached. You put 
nuts or candies inside, 
then pump the air out to 
keep them fresh. What 
will happen to marshmal- 
lows in this jar? I'll show 



you in a couple of months. 

1 . Pick any number from 1 to 

9 and multiply it by 9. Add 
the digits of the product. 
Subtract 5. Go to this letter 
in the alphabet (1 = A, 
2 = B, and so on), and 
follow these instructions: 
Write down the name of a 
country that begins with this 
letter. Write down an animal 
that begins with the second 
letter of the country. Write 
down the color of that 
animal. Write down an 
animal that begins with the 



last tetter of the country. 
Write down a fruit that starts 
with the last letter of the 
second animal. 

2. My mother had four 
children. The first two were 
girls, and she named them 
Spring and Summer. The 
third child, a boy, she 
named Autumn, What did 
she name the fourth child? 

3. Add these numbers 
aloud: 1,000; 20; 30; 1,000; 
1,030; 1,000; 20, 

4. From Dan Shine of 
Cincinnati, Ohio: How are 
the integers 1, 2, 4, and 8 
related to baseball, basket- 
ball, football, and snooker? 
Place each number with Its 
sport and explain why, 

ANSWERS: 

The solution was in the enve- 
lope; the sheet of paper. 
If you roll up the paper and 
slide it down the tube 
when the plug is standing 
upright at the center of 
the bottom, you can effec- 
tively extend the tube, down- 
ward and wrap it around 
the top of the cylinder. Then 
just turn the bottle upside 
down and the plug falls out. 

1 . I have made a prediction 
about the five words you 
wrote. It's on the table of 
contents (page 4), under 
"Games." 

2. Scot, 

3. Most people, adding 
these numbers aloud, come 
to a total of 5,000. Actually, 
they total 4,100. 

4. Here are the relation- 
ships: snooker — 1, base- 
ball— 2, football— 4, basket- 
ball— 8. But why? I'll explain 
in February. Extra-credit 
question: What are the 
corresponding numbers for 
soccer and volleyball? OQ